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Full text of "Considerations on the eucharist"

I 




GERBET ON THE EUCHARIST. 



7 /^ t *~0*+-%r&£,-lt^*~** Q***CC*&"-' 



CONSIDERATIONS 



THE EUCHARIST, 



VIEWED AS 



THE GENERATIVE DOGMA 

OF 

CATHOLIC PIETY, 

CransIateD from tfje $ rettcf) 
THE ABBE^PH. GERBET, 

BY A CATHOLIC CLERGYMAN. 



LONDON : 

PUBLISHED BY C. DOLMAN, 61, NEW BOND STREET. 




Entered at Stationers' Hall. 



TO THE 



LIGHT KEY. DR. 3IUEPHY, R. C. BISHOP 01 CORK. 

MY LORD, 

Accept the first English version of a Work which 
has already obtained a high European reputation. It is a 
feeble effort to transfuse into our language the luminous views, 
as well as the condensed and eloquent reasoning of the Abbe 
Gerbet on the subject of the Eucharist. 

Commenced under your Lordship's auspices, I gladly 
avail myself of your permission to present it in its complete 
form to the Catholics of this country, under the sanction of a 
name which cannot fail to augment considerably its circulation 
among the lovers of Religion and Literature. 

Believe me, 
My Lord, 
With every sentiment of respect, 

Your Lordship's devoted subject, 

The Translator. 



PEEF ACE. 



This work is neither a dogmatical treatise, nor a 
book of devotion, but something intermediate, 
belonging to a class which forms the link that unites 
these two orders of ideas. 

Religion nourishes the understanding with truth 
and the heart with sentiment. Hence there are two 
modes of viewing it — the one rational — the other 
edifying. From this two-fold aspect there arises 
another point of view, in which we consider the 
connexion of truths in relation to the developement 
of love in the human soul. It is in this light we are 
about to view the' mystery on which Catholic worship 
is based, In the first place, we observe that the 
Eucharistic dogma, is the complement of the primi- 
tive faith and worship of mankind; so that its 
detachment from religion would destroy the beautiful 
harmony of all the truths of which the latter is 
constituted. 

After having viewed it in its principle, and, if we 



viii 



PREFACE. 



may so express it, in its germ deposited in the bosom 
of the primitive religion, we glance at it in its results, 
namely in that manifestation of love of which it is 
the inexhaustible source ; and we demonstrate that 
the order of sentiments which it produces and 
upholds is the complete developement, or the very 
perfection of the sentiments inspired by primitive 
faith ; so that it cannot be retrenched from religion 
without assailing its vital principle — namely the spirit 
of life. This mystery is the heart of Christianity. 
Such in short is the object of this treatise. 

Nothing being isolated in religion, which like God 
himself is essentially one, it is necessary, in order 
that it may be fully understood, to view each of its 
parts, not separately, but in its relation to the general 
plan of Christianity ; and the more clearly we con- 
ceive this admirable unity, the more love ought to 
increase with intelligence. If in this peculiar view 
this work will be found to contain some notions on 
the adorable present of Divine wisdom and goodness, 
Catholics will find therein new motives for attaching 
themselves to their faith, which will serve to nourish 
their devotion. 



PREFACE. 



ix 



We no less fondly hope that it may contribute to 
remove the prejudices of our erring brethren, by 
shewing them this mystery in various aspects, 
hitherto unknown to many among them. 

Owing to the happy change which is so perceptible 
among Protestants, the most inconsiderable efforts 
directed to this quarter, are attended at the present 
day, with pleasing results. The designs of Provi- 
dence are becoming manifest. The church continually 
repairs by conversions the losses caused by apostacy. 
The places which infidelity has left vacant are filled 
up by Protestants. This two -fold movement which 
impelling some to the very boundaries of error preci- 
pitates them into scepticism and which brings back 
others from the regions of error and doubt into the 
bosom of Faith, is the grand spectacle which has 
been reserved for our age. It is only commenced, 
but let us be observant, and we shall witness its 
developement which henceforward no human power 
can arrest. 

In being thus explicit as to the result of Protes- 
tantism, we hope that neither our words or intentions 
may be misunderstood. It is not a personal question, 



X 



PRETACE. 



nor is it a contrast instituted between any given 
portion of a Protestant and Catholic population, no ! 
it is the action of Catholicism taken in its widest 
sense and compared to that of Protestantism. Severe 
logic which is founded on general facts does not suffer 
us to alter the consequence in favour of the exceptions 
which charity may be inclined to make. The 
Protestants of whom we speak would deceive them- 
selves if they fancied that Catholicism prohibits us to 
be just towards whatever merits respect. On the 
contrary, the more deeply we are convinced that 
Protestantism by its peculiar action is subversive of 
Christianity, the more are we inclined to esteem those 
who by the uprightness of their will resist its baneful 
influence ; as we admire those plants which flourish 
in an ungrateful soil. In truth, such Christian souls 
have been nurtured in a belief more ancient than 
that of the Reformation, and which are so little akin 
to it that the latter destroys them by its developement. 
Their humble and docile dispositions belong not to 
Protestantism, for in proclaiming the independence 
of individual reason, pride has been made the first law 
of each intelligence. Indeed it has been acknowledged 



PREFACE. 



xi 



by a very observant clergyman of the Protestant 
establishment, that a volume could be filled with 
the Catholicism of these Protestants. It is to such 
in particular that this work appeals. 

Though it was not our intention to furnish the 
infidel party with a proof of religion ; such however 
is the character of Christianity, that we could not 
view it in any particular respect without being led 
to recognize its truth in this point of view, or, 
in other words, its radical identity with the tradition 
of the human race, the basis of all belief and virtue. 
To invalidate this basis on a single point, is to 
destroy it, and, before this plan be adopted, would it 
not be prudent to reflect deeply on all its conse- 
quences ? 



THE EUCHARIST— THE GENERATIVE DOGMA 



OF 

CATHOLIC PIETY. 

CHAPTER I. 

On faith in a Divine presence, and union of 
God with Man. 

Religion, such as it has been conceived in all ages, 
is based on the belief of a supernatural world. What 
is more supernatural than God '? The immense, the 
divine system, of which the present world is only a 
transient point, does not come within the grasp of 
our intelligence. Creation and a future life tran- 
scend the order of things submitted to our investiga- 
tion. If the beginning and the end, the alpha and 
omega of existence, are supernatural, why may not 
there be a similar series of terms destined to form, 
during the present life, a transition from the one to 



2 



GERBET ON 



the other ? When the first, and last pages of a book 
contain symbolic characters, should we be astonished 
to find similar ones on the intermediate pages ? 
The contrary would be far more surprising. 

But what is supernatural with respect to us, is 
natural in another point of view, if it be considered 
as it bears on the general plan of divine Providence, 
in which everything is executed according to the laws 
of eternal power, wisdom, and love. Each species 
of intelligent creatures being confined to a particular 
sphere of existence, the supernatural, relatively to 
each of these, is only the projection of some laws of 
a world, superior to that which they inhabit. What- 
ever proceeds beyond the combinations of the present 
order, is the means by which this order connects 
itself with the revolutions of the future. 

Thus the general belief in a union of man with 
God, in a union which constitutes a connecting link 
between heaven and earth, always implied faith in a 
divine action, determined according to laws higher 
than those by which this world is governed, but which, 
at the same time, enter into the condition of our 
present existence, for we ourselves must concur in 

4 



THE EUCHARIST. 



3 



effecting this union, which results from this two-fold 
relation which must never be forgotten. 

The human race always believed that God was 
present to man, not merely as the first cause is present 
to creatures in general, but by a particular mode of 
relation, suited to his free will, corresponding to his 
various necessities, descending, if it may be so ex- 
pressed, into the limits of his being; and, in this sense, 
a belief in the human presence of the Divinity always 
prevailed. The God whose name causes the human 
heart to throb, is not an abstract-geometrical God, 
holding a relation, only according to the mathematical 
laws of the universe, with creatures endowed with 
liberty. In such a system, which reduces the divine 
action to the mechanism of the universe, nature raises 
itself up as a wall of brass between man and his 
Creator. No communion, no active relation, no 
society of love, exists between them ; and Deism 
fully developed, is at bottom the absence of the 
Divinity, as Atheism is its negation. 

Such is not the God that tradition, the ancient 
historian of mankind, proclaims. For it attests that, 
at the beginning, God established with his creatures 

* 



4 



GERBET ON 



a mode of communication * perfectly suited to their 
two-fold nature- — spiritual and corporal. What does 
it matter that we cannot clearly comprehend the 
nature of this communication ? Are our ideas of 
creation itself more clear ? And who does not perceive 
that, in every possible hypothesis, the commencement 
of things is involved in mystery. In rejecting the 
prodigies of divine goodness, we do not escape 
a miracle ; we only substitute for them prodigies of a 
different kind. For what can be imagined, more 
directly opposed to all authentic facts, than that 
primitive state dreamed of by philosophy, in which 
a band of human ourang-outangs, wearied from 
devouring one another, concluded by summoning into 
existence society, language and intelligence ; the 
animal creators of man ? It is not a little remarkable, 
that there is no medium between the terrestrial 
paradise, the recollection of which has been so fondly 
preserved by all the nations of the earth, and the 
terrestrial hell substituted for it by philosophy. No 
sooner is faith in divine love rejected, than hatred, 
in its most hideous form, takes its stand at the cradle 
of the human race. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



5 



Though the primitive order of divine communica- 
tion, was impeded by this original crime,* which, as 
Voltaire remarks, was the basis of all the ancient 
theology, f nevertheless mankind was convinced that 
God had not entirely abandoned fallen humanity to 
itself, and that, though he had ceased to be personally 
present, he mercifully deigned to be present by his 
healing action. There is no dogma more universal 
than that of grace, nor should this be a matter of 
astonishment ; as it was the conservative dogma of 
hope. The ancient philosophy of the East represents 
the celestial genii themselves, celebrating in their 
hymns the God " who condemns evil works, and who 
gives efficacious aid to perform good ones. Man has 
free will ; but it is written in the Veda7i, that works 
of mercy are always performed by the grace of God." J 

Man always prayed, and consequently always 
believed that there existed a divine-permanent action 
exercised, not according to the laws of motion, which 
govern the material world, but according to other 
laws peculiar to the free motions of the soul. This 

* Vide note I. t Quest, on the Encyclop. 

Oupnek ' hat, 9, No. 91— Ibid 27. 



6 



GERBET ON 



powerful faith swayed man even when bowed to earth 
beneath the dominion of his passions. When the 
slaves of vice supplicated heaven for the false goods 
they idolized, the instinct of this sacred duty mani- 
fested itself even in their unhallowed petitions. But 
whoever sincerely aspired after virtue, implored from 
on high support for his weakness. The various 
liturgies of antiquity contain, on this point, many 
affecting invocations ; and so deeply was this want 
felt, that the Pagan worship, in one of its most 
enormous abuses, was, according to Cicero, but a 
corruption of prayer. " The passions, says he, have 
been deified, as their effects cannot be restrained 
otherwise than by divine power."* 

When the will of man, borne by an ardent desire, 
is elevated to the supreme will, the miracle of divine 
intervention is accomplished. Prayer, " which makes 
God present to us,"f is a sort of communion by which 
man nourishes himself with grace, and makes it a 

* Quarum omnium rerum quia vis erat tanta, ut sine Deo 
regi not posset, ipsa res Deorum numen obtinuit. Quo ex genere 
Cupidinis, et voluptatis Lubentince Veneris vocubala con- 
secrata sunt. De Nat. Deorum Lib. 11, c. 23. 
f Origen, De orat. opp. No. 8. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



7 



portion of his spiritual substance. In this ineffable 
communication, the divine will penetrates our will, 
its action penetrates our action, that it may produce 
one and the same indivisible work, which belongs 
entirely to one as well as the other : astonishing union 
of grandeur and lowliness ; of an ever fruitful, eternal 
power, with a created activity whose very duration 
is but a process of decay ; of the incorruptible and 
regenerating element with the weak and corruptible 
elements ofourbeing; which, generally and constantly 
cherished, though differently understood, from the 
savage tribe to the most intellectual nations, was, 
under various forms, the imperishable faith of man- 
kind. If certain individuals, with whom the senses 
constitute all intelligence, refuse to believe that prayer 
is one of the conditions of the life of the soul, what 
does that moral idiotism prove against the sentiment 
of all ages ? Instead of recognising, on the faith of 
general experience, the conditions of the life of the 
body, shall we wait till it has been demonstated that 
bread is nutritious ? 

As every spiritual act ought, according to the laws 
of our nature, assume a sensible form, and as this 



8 



GERBET ON 



external realization completes what is properly called 
the human act, that is to say, the act of the entire 
man, we find among all nations the same fundamental 
rite, namely, the rite of oblation, which is, as it 
were, the body of prayer. By prayer, man adores 
God as the principle of all existence, the author and 
preserver of all beings, from whom every living soul 
receives grace to renew and repair its strength. This 
great act of adoration was everywhere represented 
exteriorly by the oblation of the things necessary for 
the life of the body : an oblation by which they also 
were referred to God, as to their principle. As 
man, by the very act of prayer, recognised that God, 
the principle of life, is the absolute master and 
supreme Lord of all creatures, so the destruction of 
the material elements offered to the Deity, indicated 
that every creature holds its existence under the 
supreme dominion of the Creator, who can preserve 
or withdraw the gift as he pleases. For this reason, 
the ordinary matter of the oblation, consisted in those 
things which serve as food for man, and particularly 
in bread and wine, the daily and universal food, the 
expressive symbol of this spiritual nourishment, of 



THE EUCHARIST. 



9 



which the soul has always and everywhere felt the 
necessity. Thus oblation was the sensible consum- 
mation of prayer ; it may be denominated the prayer 
of the senses, as prayer itself is the oblation of the 
soul. Mere invocation, separated from it, appeared 
imperfect ; and, though they could not in every case 
be united, they were deemed not less intimately 
connected in their origin. 

Prayer, considered in its essence, has a relation to 
the order of creation. In invoking the divine aid, 
we implore a continuation of the creative action, of 
which oblation is the perpetual memorial. These 
symbols are destined to awaken the remembrance of 
it, as if God, in teaching the first men the worship 
which they were to transmit to their posterity, had 
said to them " Do this in memory of me, and each 
time that you shall offer these emblems of life you 
shall announce the living God, who created and 
preserves all things." Though human nature had 
not been originally vitiated, prayer would have been 
the basis of terrestrial worship, because, arising from 
the essential connexion which exists between the 
creature and the Creator, it is a law for all intelli- 



10 



GEXIBET ON 



gences. If God is essentially good and happy, his 
creatures cannot be happy but by freely attaching 
themselves to him who is the supreme good. Happi- 
ness, the reward of virtue, is their common condition. 
But to merit they must combat. Virtue which perfects 
their being, is the effort by which they conquer the 
obstacles opposed to its developement. Hence, the 
activity of all finite intelligence being exhausted in the 
unceasing struggle against these opposing limits, it 
requires continually to repair and renew its strength 
at the source of life, in the same manner as the plant 
must extract from the bosom of the earth the sap of 
each day, in order to triumph over the rigour of the 
seasons which impedes the developement of its vege- 
tation. Thus prayer, in its essence, is but the sincere 
acknowledgment of this continual want, the humble 
desire of this perpetual assistance, and the confession 
of an indigence that hopes. If the most perfect of 
the created spirits, even he who shines at the head of 
the celestial hierarchy, believed that he could exist 
independently even for a moment, by that alone he 
would offer to himself a sacrilegious adoration ; and, 
as the elevation to which he aspired had not humility 



THE EUCHARIST. 



II 



for its basis, he would fall instantly precipitated by 
pride : whilst the last of those spirits, exiled in the 
depths of this valley of tears, as in the catacombs 
of creation, if he hath regulated in his heart the 
order of his elevation, by ascending from virtue to 
virtue,* might soar on the wing of humble prayer 
towards the God of gods, and, without ever attaining 
his greatness, would approach him unceasingly. This 
poor man cried and the Lord heard him, f this is 
the language of all creation. 

Ever since time came forth from the womb of 
eternity, prayer has been commensurate with the 
limits of creation, because wherever God has placed 
intelligent beings capable of serving him, there are 
to be found weakness and hope : supplications and acts 
of thanksgiving respond from sphere to sphere, and 
the vast universe becomes a great temple. How 
delightful the reflection that these forms of prayer 

* Beatus vir cujus est auxelium abste ; ascensiones in corde 
suo disposuit, in valle lacoymarum, in loco quern posuit 
Etenim benedietionem dabit legislator, ibimt de vertute in 
virtutem : videbitur Deus deovum in Sion. — Psal. lxxxiii, v. 67. 

f Iste pauper clamavit, et Dominus exaudivit cum. — Psal. 
xxxiii. v. 7. 



12 



GEREET ON 



which are lisped in childhood, and which we ourselves 
repeat without comprehending all their sense and 
force, are but the translation, into terrestrial language, 
of the universal hymn which, from every point of 
space and time, swells towards the God of 
eternity. 

But, if there be a means of salvation analagous to 
the condition of all intelligences, does not the condi- 
tion of fallen man demand a particular remedy, 
corresponding to the corruption of his nature ? Does 
not the wreck of his being demand a saving hand ? 
Yes, it is the aspiration of bis broken heart. But this 
indefinite sentiment, which still leaves him in dark- 
ness,tends only to make that want more sensible. Light 
is to be sought elsewhere ; what does tradition proclaim 
on this point? It tells us that man wants, not only aid 
to uphold, but also an expiation to purify him, and 
that prayer without sacrifice is insufficient. 

The idea that man could not be saved but by the 
substitution of a victim, was as general as the idea of 
God himself, and apparently more general than the 
practice of simple prayer; for certain tribes have been 
discovered, in whose worship no trace of vocal prayer 



THE EUCHARIST. 



13 



could be found, but who, in immolating victims 
prayed by action. 

If we ascend to the most remote antiquity, we shall 
find this faith already in possession of the world. 
Genesis, which, considered as a mere historical 
document, offers to us so simple and so touching 
a picture of the primitive faith and manners, 
represents it as prevailing even among the children 
of Adam, of Noah, of Abraham, and in a word 
among all the elder branches of the human family, 
or, as the Vedali has it, all the great Predecessors. 
It is now generally admitted that the collection of 
dogmas and rites, which ancient India presents to the 
contemplation of modern science, included, in its 
voluminous details, the belief in one great sacrifice ; 
and, as the different trains of thought were only 
considered as the rays of a circle that had religion for 
its centre, this doctrine of expiation appeared to 
embody itself, under different forms, in their political 
constitution, legislation, philosophy, and even in the 
usages of domestic life. It appeared, among certain 
primitive nations, at a period prior to all the other 
monuments of their religious belief. In examining 



14 



GERBET ON 



the radical characters of the most ancient writing 

extant, we would be tempted to believe that those who 

first used them had no worship, if, among the signs 

which relate to the physical necessities, one was not 

discovered that directly refers to religion, and this 

sign was that of sacrifice.* The Persian cosmogony 

says that the ancestors of the human race, Meschia 

and Meschiane, after being seduced by the 

author of evil, immolated a lamb, a portion of 

which was received into heaven, f Thus the solemn 

sacrifice was always deemed the most august act, 

containing, in an eminent degree, the virtue of all 

the other parts of worship. An idea not less universal 

is accurately represented, though under a different 

form, by this ancient Chinese sentence : — " The 

recital of all the pieces of Che-King is not equivalent 

to a single oblation ; the oblation is much inferior to 

the acceptation ; the acceptation is inferior to the 

worship offered on the mountains ; and all combined 

are infinitely beneath the sacrifice offered to Chang-ty 

by the son of Heaven. "t 

* Vide the memoirs of Abel Remusat, torn. 11, p. 37. 
f Bouen-Dehesch, Tom. 11 of Zend-Avesta, p. 379. 
£ Life of Confucius, Tom. xii. Memoirs by the Missionaries 
of Pekin, page 209. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



15 



This great idea of expiation, realized in sacrifice, 
embodies itself under a form that contrasts as much 
with oblation, the expression of simple prayer, as the 
state of the human race subject to sin and death 
contrasts with the primitive state of innocence and 
immortality. A worship sombre as justice itself 
succeeded the peaceful worship, which would have 
been always that of man, had he remained faithful to 
the order established by the first love.* In the 
oblation we see the symbols of life : in the sacrifice, 
the living being is condemned, and its death is the 
figure of another death. The flesh, separated from 
the blood, is the awful emblem of the idea concealed 
in this mysterious action. What relation could 
exist between the immolation of an animal and the 
remission of sins — this was a mystery to man. Did 
the vile blood of the victims, that fell beneath the 
sacred knife, possess the virtue of purifying the 
conscience? Never did such an absurdity prevail 
in the world. But mankind firmly believed in what 
was represented by these sacrifices. All they knew 
was that they were the types of a divine mystery of 
* Dante. 



16 



GEKBET ON 



justice and grace ; and the voice of hope arose, during 
four thousand years, from the depths of that mystery 
which futurity was to unveil. 

The deists, in demonstrating that the efficacy of 
prayer and sacrifice cannot be established by mere 
reasoning, prove what is attested by tradition, namely, 
that this faith has not originated in human conception. 
The more clearly they establish that the principle 
of these dogmas cannot be found either in the sphere 
of experience, or in that of reasoning, the more 
evident it becomes that a belief in dogmas as ancient, 
and as widely diffused as mankind, could not have 
existed, if they had not been primitively revealed ; 
so that the insoluble difficulties against the purely 
rational theory of these dogmas, have infinite force 
in establishing the divine origin of that faith. If 
worship, the expression of these general tenets, be 
only a vain phantasmagoria, these tenets themselves 
must be an eternal chimera, and, in the midst of this 
universal dream, I should like to know, how those 
who reject belief in sacrifice could prove to a 
consistent mind that it ought to believe in God. 



TFTG EUCHARIST. 



37 



CHAPTER II. 
Ancient Communion, 

The study of antiquity leads from every point 
to this truth, that there existed on the earth 
but one religion, of which the local forms were 
originally but emanations more or less pure. 
Besides the striking uniformity of these systems of 
belief, certain fundamental rites, extraordinary in 
their nature, and yet common to all, render this 
unity of origin visible through the space of six 
thousand years, and the more so as we can find 
nothing in the constitution of the human mind, that 
can explain this constant universality. Among 
these rites, one of the most remarkable is com- 
munion, which was always the consummation of 
the offering and sacrifice. 

B 



lb 



GERBET ON 



Struck by the similarity of the Jewish rites with 
those of other nations, certain philosophers and 
theologians deduced, from this as well as from 
many other points, consequences diametrically 
opposed. The former inferred that the Jews 
borrowed their worship from the Gentiles; the 
latter, that the Gentile worship was only an imitation 
of the ceremonies established by Moses. But it is 
absurd to imagine a secondary derivation, when the 
very antiquity of these customs, which are found 
from the first ages to have been established among 
the more ancient nations, supposes a common 
derivation, prior to the formation of particular 
societies. We gather this even from the book of 
Genesis. "It is no longer doubtful among us, 
says Pelisson, that all false religions have been 
derived from the true one, and that the sacrifices 
of paganism have originated in those enjoined on 
the first men, of which Abel and Cain afford us an 
example ; sacrifices which were but the figure and 
the type of a great sacrifice in which God was to 
immolate himself for us. The flesh of victims was 
eaten throughout the world: in all nations the 



THE EUCHARIST. 



19 



sacrifice which terminated in this way, was regarded 
as a solemn feast of man with God ; hence it 
occurs that we find very frequently, in the old 
pagan poets, the banquet of Jupiter, and the viands 
of Neptune, used to signify the victims which were 
eaten after they had been immolated in honor of 
these false divinities ; and though the J ews had 
holocausts, that is sacrifices in which the victim 
was entirely consumed in honor of the Deity, they 
were accompanied by the offering of a cake, so that 
in these sacrifices there might be something of 
which man could partake." * 

The theology of India has associated this tradi- 
tional rite to its vast conceptions. 4 'AH nourish- 
ment is deemed to be a sacrifice. The nourish- 
ment of the body is emblematic of that of the soul, 
viz. the holy truth, — the celestial manna. Wherefore 
food was to be taken with devotion, in a state of 
sweet recollection, the soul free from terrestrial 
cares and absorbed in the delights of an innocent 
joy. Thus religion gave laws even to festivals. 
We communicate with the divinity through the 
* Treatise on the Eucharist, page 182 — Paris 1694, 



GEUBET on 



medium of the oblation presented to it. It is only 
on consecrated food that the Hindoo lives. He has 
a horror of all animal food, that has not been 
offered to the Divinity. Such are, in substance, 
the fundamental principles of the doctrine regarding 
sacrifices in India." * To cite but an example, 
one of the most celebrated sacrifices, which con- 
sisted in the immolation of a lamb, was accompanied 
by a prayer, in which these words were repeated 
aloud : TFhen shall the Saviour be born ? This 
symbolical ceremony terminated by partaking of the 
flesh of the victim, and so sacred was the character 
of this participation, that the law which bound the 
Bramins to perpetual abstinence, yielded to that 
superior law which prescribed communion, f We 
find a similar custom among the Egyptians, who 
eat, in their principal sacrifices, the flesh of animals 
which on other occasions they held in abhorrence. 
Herodotus, who remarks this apparent contradiction, 
says that he had learned the reason of it ; but, in 

* The Catholic by Baron D'Eckstein. 
f Letters of the Abb£. P. Bouchet to Huet, Tom. xi of 
edifying, Letters p. 21. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



21 



order that he might not profane the secrets which 
had been confided to him, he veils it in a religious 
silence. * 

In the ancient mysteries of Mithras, which finally 
prevailed through a considerable portion of the 
Roman Empire, St. Justin f and Tertullianf 
inform us, that bread and a vessel full of water, 
over which a mysterious form of prayer was recited, 
were placed before the initiated ; and this species 
of consecration was also followed by communion. § 
We learn from the Zends books, that a similar 
ceremony was deemed an essential part of the 
Persian worship. The offerings of bread, meat, 
and fruit, in which the priest and people par- 
ticipated at the end of the sacred ceremony, were 
designated by the name of Miezd. It would be 
difficult to imagine any thing more solemn than 
the prayers and benedictions which preceded and 
followed this- rite.^f The holy spirits supposed to 
preside over the different parts of the universe and 
the conduct of men, as well as the souls of the just, 

* Hist of Herodotus, Lib. 11. f Apology. 

% Prescriptions, c. 40. § Vide note 11. IF Vide note 11L. 



22 



GERBET ON 



from the Father of the human race down to 
Sosioch, a name which the Zends books give to 
the expected Redeemer, were all invoked for that 
oblation. And, as the reversibility of merit was 
universally believed, a special prayer is contained 
in the same books, by which the priest, according 
to his private intention, applied the benefit of that 
holy action to other men. Purity was deemed a 
necessary disposition for participating in the obla- 
tion. The liturgy proclaimed : " The pure ordain 
the oblation, the pure ministers have performed it, 
and the pure partake of it." Then the Celebrant 
said to his attendant : "Man of the law, eat this 
Miezd, and perform this action with purity." The 
Zends books extol its efficacy in pompous terms. 
Ormusd, who from the beginning dwelleth in 
increated light, had instituted and celebrated the 
Miezd with the celestial spirits in his splendid man- 
sion. To this ceremony the religion of the Persians 
adds another, emblematic of the same idea, and to 
which it attaches the same importance. The great 
Ormusd, in the beginning, created the tree of life. 
That symbolical tree, called Horn, grows in 



THE EUCHARIST. 



23 



waters of a pure and vivifying source which flows 
from the throne of Oramsd himself. It banishes 
death, it will effect the resurrection, and impart 
life to the blessed. They consecrate it by a form 
of prayer similar to that of the Miezd ; and eleva- 
ting they invoke it, because it exalts piety and 
science. After having extracted the juice, which 
is received in a sacred cup, they drink it, for 
it is said, that whosoever shall drink this juice 
shall not die. Thus the two principal ceremonies 
of worship, so closely united, are also linked with 
the mystical idea of a communion which consists 
in being nourished by sacred bread, and in 
drinkmg what the Zend Avesta terms the liquor 
of life.* 

Among the Chinese the same rite presents itself 
in the sacrifices of an inferior order offered to the 
souls of the just, as may be seen in that which is 
celebrated in honor of Confucius. The priest after 
having buried in the earth the blood of the victim, 
offers to Confucius a vessel full of wine which he 

* Zend-Avesta, Vendidad Sad6, Tom. 1, part II, passim.. 



24 



GERBET ON 



immediately pours on a man of straw, and addresses 
this prayer to the tablet: "Your virtues, O 
Confucius, are excellent and admirable. Your 
doctrine teaches Kings how to rule. The offerings 
which we present to you are pure. May your 
spirit descend on us ; may it enlighten us by its 
presence." After the prayer, all the assistants 
kneel, and remain in that posture for some time. 
The priest himself, after having washed his hands, 
also kneels : then the voices and musical instruments 
steal upon the ear. He takes from the hands of 
one of the assistants a basin in which there is a 
piece of silk, elevating with both hands he offers it 
to Confucius. He performs a like ceremony with 
a vessel full of wine. Whilst they burn the piece 
of silk on a pan set apart for that use, the Cele- 
brant recites a prayer similar to the preceding. 
After many reverences, he takes again in his hands 
the vessel full of wine, and recites another prayer 
addressed to the spirit of Confucius. Then he 
says : Drink the wine of happiness and joy. He 
commands them to kneel. Whilst he says, Drink 
the wine of joy, the Celebrant drinks the wine 



THE EUCHARIST. 



25 



that is in the vessel presented to him. He offers 
to Confucius the flesh of the victims, which are 
afterwards distributed among the assistants. Each 
was persuaded that, by such a participation, he 
became entitled to the favour of Confucius."* 

The worship of the Greeks and Romans is too 
well known to require that we should enter into 
any details on this subject. It is generally admitted 
that besides the custom of feeding on the flesh of 
the victims, the former used, in their sacrifices, 
cakes made of fine flour and honey ; the latter, a 
paste made of fine flour and salt, which they called 
immolatio, to this were added libations of wine, 
which were not poured on the head of the victims 
till the celebrant and assistants had received a 
portion of them. 

In the solemn sacrifice which the Celts offered 
at the beginning of every year, the three most 
ancient Druids carried, one bread, the other a 
vessel full of water, and the third an ivory hand 
representing justice. After some prayers, the 



* Parallel of Religions. Tom. 1, page 420. 



26 



GEHBET ON 



high-priest burned a little of the bread, poured on 
the altar some drops of wine, offered the bread and 
wine in sacrifice, and then distributed them to the 
assistants.* 

The Germans, f Scandinavians, J and Finns, § 
conformed to the universal rite; and it appears 
that the practice of pagan communion was preser- 
ved, down to the end of the sixteenth century, in 
Sama-gotia, as well as in several parts of Lithuania. 
Ismaelismhas preserved a sacrifice commemorative of 
that of Abraham, which it celebrates with great mag- 
nificence : and in this festival, the most solemn of all, 
the mysterious ceremony, on which the consum- 
mation of the sacrifice depends, is also observed, 
though one of its circumstances is contrary to the 
prohibitions of the Koran. ^] 

As to the Americans, we shall only cite the 
example of the two great nations, Mexico and Peru, 
which may be termed the east of the new world. 1 4 The 

* Parallel of Religious, Tom. i, Part II, Page 80. 
f Vide note iv. J Suhn, odin Tom iii, P. 181. 

§ Vide research on the ancient Finns. 
H Vide note v. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



'27 



article of communion has been most clearly recorded 
by all their writers. It was practiced in Mexico 
especially ; where the priests made a statue from 
the dough of Indian corn which was afterwards 
baked. This was the representative of their idol. 
On a certain day of the year it was exposed, with 
much ceremony, to the veneration of the faithful, 
and no one dared to absent himself from the temple. 
It was carried about in procession, and when it was 
borne back to the temple, the Papa broke, and 
the priest distributed it to the people, who 
eat of it y and believed themselves sanctified by 
such a participation. We see the same rite 
diffused among many of the ancient nations of our 
hemisphere. 

But we cannot omit alluding to another rite of 
the Peruvian priests. They offered in sacrifice bread 
made of Indian corn together with a vinous liquor 
extracted from it. They commenced bv eating this 
bread, then, dipping one of then* fingers in the 
liquor, and raising then - eyes to heaven, they made 
an aspersion in the air, with the liquid they had 
on their finger : and having done this they drank 



28 



GERBET ON 



in honor of the Sun. It is not improbable that this 
bread and this vinous substance, were made of the 
Indian corn which grew in the gardens of the temples, 
and which was esteemed sacred. However tins 
may be, it is certain that this bread and wine were 
made by the consecrated virgins. The bread was 
called Cancu, and the liquor Aca, and were never 
used save in the great festivals of Eayami and 
Cittua* 

This fundamental rite completes the unity of 
primitive worship, the scheme of which then 
becomes.fully developed. According to the univer- 
sal belief, God, who, in the beginning, was 
personally present to man, continued to be so only 
by grace to fallen man. But how was a par- 
ticipation in divine grace to be effected ? By prayer 
accompanied with oblation, and hi virtue of an 
expiation prefigured by sacrifice. But even this 
imion had an exterior form which consisted in the 
participation of the food consecrated by oblation, 
and the flesh of victims. Thus a communion in 

* American Letters of Carle, Tom. 1, Pages 154 and 155. 



THE EUCHARIST. 29 

grace, at the same time spiritual and corporal, 
invisible in its essence, and visibly manifested, such 
was the centre to which the leading tenets of all 
nations tended, such the point of reunion — the vital 
principle of universal worship.* 

It would be impossible to understand this primi- 
tive worship, without viewing each part in relation 
to the whole. This order of mystical ideas typified 
by corporal communion, was connected with a deep 
religious symbolism, according to which all the 
elements of the material were only the representatives 
of the invisible world. An immense colossal spiri- 
tualism rises before us ; even in the first ages of 
the world. Originating in the dogmas of tradition 
it shewed itself in all the ancient systems of the 
human race. At the epoch subsequent to the 
deluge, we see for example, in India, the ruins of 
a primitive science perfectly spiritual in its essence. 
These indeed are only ruins ; but yet they are nobler 
than our creations. Dimly seen through the vista 
of former ages, these intellectual pyramids would 



* Vide Note VI. 



30 



GERBET ON 



appear by their enormous proportions to oversha- 
dow the systems of modern invention. Spirituality 
was then the primitive state : it bore the venerable 
character of age when materialism received its birth. 
If man had been but the creature of mere sensation, 
it would have been impossible, judging by all the 
known laws of the human mind, that, in the interval 
which separates the period of which we now speak, 
from that which the traditions of all nations point 
out as the birth of our species, he could have raised 
himself, from a state scarcely superior to that of 
apes, to a spiritualism which embraced the universe, 
and disposed in harmonious and corresponding 
Cycles the various orders of ideas. With these 
facts before us, do you suppose that man, abandoned 
to himself, a wandering savage, commenced his 
career by spirituality ? Such an hypothesis is an 
evident absurdity. Look at the savages, who are 
already hi a more favourable position from being 
born in a sort of society, and receiving there, some 
degree of education: though initiated, by the 
language they are taught, in some general spiritual 
ideas, they remain, in every other respect, the slaves 



THE EUCHARIST. 



31 



of the grossest materialism. The animal stupidity 
from which they cannot free themselves by their 
own energy, furnishes an irrefragable argument 
against this fanciful philosophy, not less contrary, 
in other respects, to the necessary progress of the 
human mind. For, as Hume remarks, it would be 
absurd that, in the intellectual order, man should 
have invented palaces before cottages. Two things 
are then certain: man commenced by spiritualism, 
and man, excluded from all communication with 
other intelligences, would have commenced by 
materialism. Hence arises the necessity of a pri- 
mitive revelation, which indeed would be the most 
philosophical conception, even though it had not 
been the universal belief. * The more deeply we 
shall examine the character of the ancient world, 
viewing it in relation with the established laws of 
the human mind, the more this great truth will 
become evident. The truly catholic philosophy, 
to which at the present day all the labours of the 
learned are contributing, sometimes unconsciously, 
will in developing itself, scatter to the winds, the 
* Vide note vii 



32 



GERBET ON 



sterile dust of abstractions, and exhibit the ancient 
faith crowned with all the rays of science. Already 
the science even of the infidel school, astonished 
at its own discoveries, which overthrow at the 
same time the fanciful theories of idiology and 
materialism, has begun to suspect that tliere are 
more things between heaven and earth than its 
philosophy has dreamed of. * 



* Shakspea,re, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



33 



chapter nr. 

Developement of the Primitive Religion— personal 
presence of the Deity — C7iristian Communion. 

Though the primitive religion recognised, as we 
have seen, a certain intercourse between God and 
man, yet the human race aspired to a more perfect 
union. The recollection of an original soci'ety still 
more perfect had been preserved, and the same 
tradition had perpetuated the hope, that a more 
endearing union would be established by the Saviour 
universally expected. Thus the belief of a Godj 
present only by grace, could never satisfy the yearning 
desire of man for a closer union with his Creator. 
It was partly to the energy of this desire that idolatry 
owed its existence ; for every vicious practice is but 
the perversion of a sentiment originally good, as 
c 



3-1 



GERBET ON 



error, according to the remark of Bossuet, is but the 
abuse of truth. Hence the consecration of statues 
that the Divinity might reside corporally therein ; 
hence the strong propensity to theurgy, so violent in 
all the pagan nations, hence also the disposition to 
recognise in illustrious personages some incarnate 
divinity. This divine instinct shewed itself, in every 
part of the universe, under various forms, and the 
public worship, even in the superstious practices 
amalgamated with it, was to a certain degree the 
prophetic yearning of mankind, seeking every where 
a personal presence of the divinity. 

J esus Christ appears, the aspirations of the moral 
world are at length satisfied, its expectations realized. 
This faith in the real presence was immediately 
productive of two remarkable effects, bearing on the 
point before us, the one in the bosom of Christianity 
itself, the other in the pagan world. Among the 
christians, the universal rage for divination, sorcery, 
and magical rites, ceased on a sudden. It was not 
only the external practices that gave way before the 
rigorous laws of the Church, but even the propensity, 
till then so furious and indomitable, was stilled in 



THE EUCHARIST. 



35 



the human heart, and was succeeded by a profound 
calm, indicating that a great want had been satisfied. 
Beyond the pale of the Church, the same belief reacted 
on pagan philosophy. The latter perceiving that 
Christianity, in announcing the personal presence of 
the Deity, had satisfied the perpetual desire of man- 
kind, recognised the necessity, in order to maintain 
some sway over the mind, of promising a similar boon. 
But as by the most elaborate abstractions, it could 
have produced nothing better than an abstract Deity, 
and as in truth it had produced nothing real but 
incertitude and doubt, it now assumed a perfectly 
new character. From rational which it had been, 
it became mystical and theurgical ; and the famous 
school of Alexandria, at that time the nursery of 
pagan philosophy, could only oppose to the mysteries 
of the Gospel a sort of theological alchymy, which 
vanished, like a vision of the night, before the 
ascendancy of the ancient faith fully displayed in 
the glories of Christianity. 

The superiority of the Christian religion properly 
so called over the primitive religion, consists princi- 
pally in uniting us more closely with the Deity. God 



36 



GEKBEf ON 



could not communicate with man without imparting 
a more intimate knowledge of himself ; hence the 
developement of truth. He could not impart this 
intimate knowledge of himself without being loved 
more perfectly ; hence again the developement of the 
law of love, and of all morality, fully comprehended 
in the precept of charity. It followed then as a 
necessary consequence, that religious worship should 
receive the degree of perfection suited to it. If the 
most august act of the Christian worship was only a 
memorial of the Saviour's death, as the most solemn 
sacrifice of the ancient worship was its emblem, if 
the one announced but the mere remembrance, as the 
other expressed but the hope, the two would consti- 
tute but mere figures, the one of the past, the other of 
the future, but both equally void; so that Religion 
having been developed in all its other parts, and that 
developement being a consequence of the real pre- 
sence of the Deity, had religious worship alone 
remained in its primitive state of imperfection, 
it would have stopped short of the reality. The 
momentous event, which constitutes the difference 
of the two Epochs, is necessarily the arch-stone of a 



THE EUCHARIST. 



37 



new order, all the parts of which should be propor- 
tionally superior, as they relate to the corresponding 
parts of the preceding order, which was only the 
model ; and whereas the incarnation is the substan- 
tial union of the divine and human nature, however 
mysterious to our feeble intelligence as yet in its 
infancy, it was natural that the worship, determined 
by that fundamental fact, should be the medium of 
a union with God, less perfect than it wiil be when 
the shades of faith shall have given place to the 
unclouded vision of truth itself, but as close as it can 
be in this enigmatical world, where man is less 
susceptible of light than of love. 

Such has been at all times the belief of the univer- 
sal Church, a belief founded on the words of Christ 
himself — that he was and would be always present 
to the regenerated world even to the consummation 
of time, though in an invisible manner — and that 
such a permanent presence constituted the vital 
principle of Christianity. It does not enter into our 
present plan to demonstrate the perpetuity of Catholic 
tradition ; this is indeed the less necessary as it is no 
longer contested by all consistent protestants, who 



38 



GERBET ON 



have been forced, by the principle of mental indepen- 
dence, to represent to themselves that variation and 
change of belief is one of the essential characteristics 
of the true religion, and to reject catholicity merely 
because its fundamental principle is to believe what 
has been always and every where believed. But, if 
the rule of faith, the great preservative of dogmas, is 
immutably one, the dogmas considered in themselves 
present the same grand character of unity, particularly 
in every part that relates to the divine presence. 

Mankind believed that God was present by grace : 
but what is grace ? It is an aid given man enabling 
him to regain the state in which he was created, 
renovating, because it relates to fallen man, and 
consequently purely gratuitous. It is in another point 
of view, a continuation of the creative action. Since 
the incarnation of the Word, the Church has believed 
in the real presence of Christ ; but what is the real 
presence, but the incarnation perpetuated? The 
dogma of the Eucharist is as naturally and inti- 
mately connected with the order of ideas which 
is based on the Incarnation, as is the dogma of grace 
with the more general order of ideas, though funda- 



THE EUCHARIST. 



m 



mentally the same, which has for its basis the restora- 
tion of rational beings according to the primitive 
plan of the creation. It is uniformly a belief in the 
actual presence of the Deity, but under two different 
modes, having the same mutual relation as the two 
fundamental facts by which they are determined ; for 
the real presence is to the mere divine action, or 
grace, precisely what the Incarnation is to the will of 
assisting fallen man. The generative term of the 
union of God with man having changed, the fruits 
are different ; but, in both cases, the proportion is 
preserved. Thus all the mysteries of love are inter- 
woven with each other, or rather they are the 
progressive accomplishment of the same merciful 
design, of which the eucharistic union is the last 
terrestrial compliment : how beautiful the harmony 
which presents, under so magnificent an aspect, to 
the reason of man, this mystery which is also the 
tenet of his heart, being the purest and sweetest 
of his consolations. 

The error of those who reject the real presence is, 
in relation to Christianity fully developed, what the 
system of the ancient Philosophers, who denied the 



40 



GERBET ON 



dogma of grace, was to primitive Christianity : an 
error which the Pelagians sought to combine with 
christian ideas. By creation, said the former, 
we receive from God all that constitutes man, what 
necessity for a new divine action ? By the union of 
the Word with human nature, said the latter, we 
received all that constitutes the christian, what 
necessity for a new union with God ? The first did 
not understand that man stood in need of a commu- 
nion in divine grace to maintain the life of the soul, 
or to practice the primeval law. The 
second are still ignorant that a communion in the 
divine substance of the incarnate Word, is necessary 
to possess the plenitude of life, and to attain the 
high perfection of the evangelical Law, which is the 
end and consummation of the former. But when 
they suppose that, in recognising the necessity whe- 
ther of grace, or of the eucharistic communion, 
injury is done the Creator or Redeemer, they forget 
that the Eucharistic] communion is the means by 
which the permament incarnation is individualized 
in every christian, as grace is the means by which 
the divine permanent power operates in a particular 



THE EUCHARIST. 



41 



manner in every man, and thus, so far from detrac- 
ting from the creative power, or from the renovating 
influence of the incarnation, nothing is better fitted 
to give a more 'exalted notion of them, than this 
continual want of participating in them, as nothing is 
more capable to inspire us with a lively sentiment of 
the infinite love they reveal, than this inexhaustible 
communication of both one and the other. Hence 
the beautiful expression of Bourdaloue, rigourously 
true with respect to grace, but supereminently so 
with respect to the Eucharist, or grace by excel- 
lence : God exalts himself by this infinite con- 
descension. 

The analogies which have been just noticed show 
how Protestantism, in setting out with a denial of 
the catholic dogma of the Eucharist, has proceeded 
step by step, to reject the dogma of grace, the foun- 
dation of all religion; and this progress of Protestan- 
tism confirms in turn the accuracy of these analogies* 
For the history of doctrines is by no means a vain phe- 
nomenon. Their external connexion shadows forth 
the internal association of ideas, and gives a palpable 
form to their logic. The three leaders of the reform- 



42 



GERBET ON 



ation marshaled against catholic mysticism, assail each 
from his ground, the belief in the sacrament of love. 
Luther mutilates and denaturalizes it; Calvin, by 
veiling under equivocal expressions the substance of 
his doctrine, annihilates it. Less cunning, but 
more enterprising, Zuinglius lifts the veil. The first 
effect of their common doctrine was that the Refor- 
mation exhibited a worship divested of sacrifice, and 
was thus placed without the pale of Religion, such as 
it has been conceived in all ages. Shortly, by a 
natural consequence, Socianinism, following up the 
work of destruction, assailed the dogma of the real 
presence, in the incarnation itself, as well as the 
fundamental idea of sacrifice by attacking the 
redemption. Though ancient Protestantism had 
struggled some time against the ascendancy of 
socinian doctrines, the latter however have prevailed. 
Save in the old liturgies, they are to be met with in 
all the writings of the reformers. Faith in prayer 
and grace, the last link that binds man to God, still 
survived amid the wreck of these crumbling doc- 
trines. But the rationalists of Germany * betray a 

* Among others, Eberhard, Tuukeim, Spalding, 
Veigscheider, &c. 



/ 



THE EUCHARIST. 



43 



marked tendency to hold up this belief as a ridiculous 
superstition, irreconcilable with the laws of nature. 
Thus, as the reformation advances, the living 
worship retires, a desert expands around it, and, in 
this moral waste where all the sources of love are 
dried up, prayer, even prayer, which springs up 
wherever a particle of faith remains, withers and dies 
beneath the blighting influence of Rationalism. 

One of the most celebrated doctors of ancient 
Protestantism demanded what connexion could exist 
between faith in the real presence and faith in prayer. 
He took credit to himself that he could not under- 
stand it, and indeed what is it these men have 
understood ? The history of their own doctrine fully 
developed confounds their presumptuous ignorance. 
It shows that the germ of Catholic mysticism exists 
in faith in prayer. In truth, whoever admits that a 
simple act of the human will effects a change in the 
spiritual or material order of the universe, and that 
God obeys the voice of man, he makes a most 
profoudly mystical act of faith, as it bears a relation 
to an order of things entirely beyond the sphere of his 
* Larrogue — Hist, of the Euch, p. 41. 



44 



GERBET ON 



reasoning and sensation; and hence he is inconsistent, 
if, retaining a belief on this point, he refuses it on any 
other, under the pretext that it transcends the sphere 
of his senses or the conception of his reason. Here 
then we have one of the causes that will make 
Protestantism disappear as a religion, at a period 
which cannot be very remote. Its destiny impels it, 
with an irresistible force, to resolve itself into pure 
rationalism, for, if the reason of each individual is 
absolute, it ought admit nothing but what it clearly 
conceives. Rationalism, in turn, will abolish faith 
in prayer, because it is essentially indemonstrable. 
Now, prayer once destroyed, form if you can the 
notion of a religion ? 

Catholicism, on the contrary, maintains its belief 
in the real presence and communion in the substance 
of the Word made flesh, by an act of faith essentially 
similar to that by which the presence of God through 
his action, and communion in grace by means of 
prayer have been at all times believed. Catholicism 
also maintains, in virtue of the same principle, the 
faith of all ages in divine communications, rendered 
more perfectby the effects of the incarnation. To reject 



THE EUCHARIST. 



4-5 



the Catholic doctrine, either we must discard the 
faith of antiquity, by denying that God was present 
to man in a particular manner, conformable to his 
nature, that is to say, in a human manner, or we 
must suppose that this union of God with man, 
which has ever been the foundation of religion, was 
not designed to be perfected ; in other words, that 
the ancient worship was not designed to give place 
to a more excellent one ; which inference would be 
directly opposed to the primitive traditions, that were 
the very vehicles of this faith in a future developement. 

Christianity, in another and not less fundamental 
point, has realized the general expectation. The 
ancient worship prophetically shadowed forth, as we 
have seen, that a great atonement was at hand, and 
though the notion of it was somewhat confused, yet 
its essential traits naturally showed themselves 
in the general belief. Its symbolical rites however 
various were mutually connected only by the myste- 
rious relation they bore to it, as the different shades 
cast by a body form but one and the same shadow. 
The regenerating sacrifice. from which all other sacri- 
fices derive their value, ought to bear that impress of 



46 GERBET ON 

unity which characterizes God himself, to whom 
ever)' creature is indebted for existence. What does 
Christianity proclaim on this point ? " For there is 
one God, and one mediator of God and man, * the 
man Christ Jesus. For by one oblation he hath 
perfected for ever them that are sanctified."! Again 
this expiation ought to be universal, for, according 
to the faith of the human race, God opens not to one 
only but to all nations the bosom of his mercy. What 
is the doctrine of Christianity on this subject ? " Christ 
died for all,'! for there is no respect of persons with 
God."§ But if the all powerful efficacy of this 
sacrifice was to pervade every place, it was but a 
natural consequence that the hope of pardon emana- 
ting from it should be limited only by the consumma- 
tion of time. God never commanded man to despair, 
and the abandoned are no longer of this world. Never, 

* Unus enimDeus, unus et mediator Dei et hominum, homo 
Christus Jesus. Epist. ad Timott., cap. ii, c. 5. 

f Una enim oblatione consummavit in sempiternum sanctifi- 
catos. Epist. ad Hebr. cap. x. v. 14. 

% Pro omnibus mortuus est Christus, 2d Epist. ad Corinth, 
cap. v., v. 15. 

§ Non est enim acceptio personarum apud Deum, Ad Rom» 
cap. 11, 2. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



47 



at any period of time, not even when the gulph of 

iniquity opened widest and deepest, was it believed 

that divine mercy had stopped in its course, like to 

a river which loses itself in an abyss ; and as this 

sacrifice the presentiment of which was so universal, 

proved for mankind the inexhaustible source of grace, 

so it was meet that this expiation should be the means 

of salvation both for those who had expected by faith 

its exterior realization, as well as for those who were 

destined to know its accomplishment. Such was the 

necessary consequence of the primitive symbol, 

Christianity proclaimed it. " All these died according 

to faith, not having received the promises, but 

beholding them afar off, and saluting them, and 

confessing that they were strangers and pilgrims on 

the earth.* Finally, the sacrifice being destined to 

satisfy infinite justice, and the merits of all creatures 

bearing no proportion to that infinite satisfaction, it 

was necessary that the victim should be both divine 

and human ; human to suffer, divine to satisfy. Thus 

* Juxta fidem defuncti sunt omnes isti, non acceptis repro- 
messionibus sed a longe eas aspicientes, et salutantes et 
confitentes quia peregriai ethospites sunt super tenum. Ad Heb. 
cap. 11, v. 13. 



48 



GERBET ON 



the belief in a man-God, of which very many striking 
traces are found in antiquity, was comprehended, 
though imperfectly, in the general desire of an 
efficacious expiation. * This mystery, hidden in the 
bosom of all ages, was unveiled by Christianity. 
" For in him were all things created in heaven and 
on earth,f and upholding all things by the word of his 
power." J Wherefore when he comethinto the world, 
he saith, sacrifice and oblation thou wouldest not ; 
but a body thou hast fitted to me ; holocausts for sin 
did not please thee ; then said I, behold I come ; 
making peace through the blood of his cross, both 
as to the things on earth and the things in heaven. § 
When Christianity proclaimed the consummation 
of the one, universal, perpetual, eminently holy and 
divine Sacrifice, not an accent of surprise was heard 
throughout the world; as if mankind recognized in this 

* Vide note 8. 

t Omnia per ipsum et en ipso creata sunt.-— Ad. Coloss,, 
cap. 1., v. 16. 

J Portansque omnia verbo virtutis suse. — Ad. Heb., cap. 1, 
v. 3. 

§ Ingrediens mundum, dixit, hostiam et oblationem noluisti, 
corpus autem aptasti mibi : holocautomata pro peccato non tibi 
placuesuxit : tune dixi : Ecce venio. — ad Heb. ii, 5. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



49 



dogma its recollections and its hopes. In the same 
way as the idea of God, or a necessary being, accounts 
for the existence of all other beings, so does the 
notion of the Christian sacrifice account for all the 
ancient ones. It explains to us how man hoped he 
might be saved by the substitution of a victim ; why 
the world believed, previously to its having been 
proclaimed by St. Paul, that without the effusion of 
blood there was no remission of sin ; why the animals 
mystically devoted should be pure ; why by an error 
fatal indeed, but bearing the impress of the truth 
which it abused, human sacrifice could appear 
necessary ; why all these expiations were deemed 
insufficient ; finally why mankind, doomed to die, 
sought even in the bosom of death salvation and life. 
The cross of the Saviour has solved all these 
astonishing problems ; it explains the faith of man- 
kind, as the existence of God explains the world. 

Catholicism, in accordance with the tradition of 
all ages, admits that sacrifice is the supreme act of 
adoration, but that religious worship having ceased 
to be merely emblematical, since Christ substituted 
reality for figure, this rite, ever existing, has become 

D 



50 



GERBET ON 



and shall continue to the end the very form of the 
eternal sacrifice. And as all the rays of universal 
worship are seen to converge in sacrifice, so in the 
Christian sacrifice, the different parts of worship 
substantially reunited, are all raised to the highest 
degree of perfection. The primitive worship of 
mankind was based on prayer. It still continues to 
be the basis of Christian worship ; but when the 
priest, who is a mortal and a sinner, presents to God 
the petitions of his brethren assembled around the 
altar, it is not man who prays, it is the invisible and 
eternal Pontiff " always living to make intercession 
for us ; holy, innocent, undefiled, separate from 
sinners, and made higher than the heavens."* Who, 
uniting our supplications to his, as he united our 
nature to his, gives a divine efficacy to the humble 
supplications of our misery. Oblation also constituted 
a part of the universal and ancient worship ; it still 
exists under the same form, and in bread and wine 
are offered up the first fruits of the viands on which 
we subsist. But in the far more spiritual worship of 
Christianity there only remains a mystical veil of 
* Ad. Heb. chap, vii., v. 26. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



51 



these material elements suited to our present condi- 
tion, through which the divine Word imparts himself 
to us, the eternal bread which nourishes our souls 
languishing for the ever living truth, the celestial 
drink which begins to slake within us the infinite 
thirst of love. The immolation of typical victims 
was the most solemn act of primitive worship ; 
immolation yet remains ; but, the reign of figures 
having ceased on Calvary, Christ himself is the 
victim. The theandric flesh and blood are present 
under separate signs, in memory of his death, and 
at the same time under the form of bread and wine, 
the emblems of life, because life was restored to us 
by his death. The elements of oblation and those of 
the bloody sacrifice, of which the former were the 
memorial of creation, the latter the image of redemp- 
tion, and which were always separate in the primitive 
worship, are united and identified in the Christian 
sacrifice, because redemption is creation repaired. 
Finally the different parts of the ancient worship 
tended to a communion in the grace of God, repre- 
sented by the participation of the food consecrated 
by oblation, and in the flesh of victims. The 



52 



GERBET ON 



consummation of the Christian worship is an act of 
the same nature, but of a superior order constituted 
by the incarnation which has ennobled all religion. 
Christian communion is not a mere participation in 
grace, but in the very substance of the man-God, 
becoming incarnate in each of us, in order to purify 
and nourish our souls. It is the union with God 
raised, if it may be so said, to the highest degree that 
can be attained within the limits of the present order; 
beyond this is heaven. For if in the union of the 
divine substance with ours, God proportionably 
changed our intelligence into his, and our will into 
his love, " We would see him face to face," we 
would love him with a love proportioned to that 
unclouded vision : heaven is nothing else than that. 
Let us wait a little, the transfiguration is fast approach- 
ing. This terrestrial life is but the infancy of man. 
As the child inhales the streams of life, and by natural 
instinct cleaves the maternal bosom, before it has 
opened its eyes to the light of day, thus man is 
nourished at the bosom of God before he can behold 
him face to face. Such is the universal order of 
Providence ; for the union of intelligence and will 



THE EUCHARIST. 



53 



is invariably preceded by a substantial union. But 
shortly the child knows the authors of his being as 
he is known by them, and becomes identified with 
them in affection. Thus when we shall have passed 
from this world as from a cradle, the union, 
commenced on the earth shall be consummated in 
heaven, and God, penetrating all our being, by his 
power, his light, and his love, shall be in us and we 
in him, according to the plenitude of his attributes 
and the capabilities of our nature. 

The eucharistic communion is something interme- 
diate between the union with the Deity granted to the 
just of old in this land of banishment, and that which 
the saints enjoy in the celestial City. More highly 
favoured than the former, we participate not only in 
grace, but in the substance of the incarnate Word, 
as the saints in heaven. But less happy than the 
latter, as yet we only see God through a veil, or 
enigmatically according to St. Paul. In this respect 
we are in the state of the ancient just, which is the 
condition of all men, during their sojourn in this 
world of shades and images, which is only relieved 
by a darkling day according to the remark of the 



GEKBET ON 



ancients. A union with the Divinity has ever been 
the principle of love ; but it has been developed in 
different degrees. Without losing the character of 
luiiformity, it has more profoundly penetrated human 
nature, since the incarnation which has established 
between God and man more intimate communica- 
tions ; as in the same way, without injury to this 
uniformity it will receive a boundless expansion, 
when the bonds which fetter it here below shall have 
fallen at the portals of the heavenly country. Thus 
the divine work is progressing to its accomplishment: 
all the developements which religion receive here 
below are but the transition from the temporal to the 
eternal order. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



55 



CHAPTER IV. 

The idea of the Eucharist according to Catholic 
Doctrine. 

Catholicism is the universal belief, not in an abstract, 
but in a real and effective presence of God with 
man. God is really present to our intelligence by 
his word, of which general tradition is but the 
prolonged echo through the vast space of ages. He is 
really present to our will by grace, of which external 
worship is the permanent organ. Hence, through 
the medium of man's free concurrence, arises a union 
with God, who is the ultimate object of his existence, 
as well as that of all beings. Going forth from God 
to people the universe, he recalls them into the 
infinite bosom of his eternity, to be all in all: such, 
according to the belief of antiquity, were the last 
words of creation, 



56 



GERBET OJT 



The spirits that departed from the pale of primi- 
tive Catholicism followed two different directions. 
The one setting out with the idea of God, and, 
endeavouring to discover the secret of creation, 
conceived a union of each individual being with God, 
similar to that which exists between modification 
and the substance modified ; thus making man one 
of the imiunierable forms of the Divinity, The other 
restricting themselves to man, sought to find in him 
the reason of all ; but as a contingent and limited 
being does not contain within itself the reason of 
any thing, not even of its own existence, these entirely 
lost sight of the truth, and scepticism was the result 
of their feeble researches. Such are the two extreme 
points to which the rationalism of antiquity, whether 
in India or Greece, conducted. With the sceptic, man 
was but the shadow of a being, with the pantheist, 
be was the supreme being. From these two doctrines 
emanated two corresponding orders of sentiments. 
Scepticism, which, in annihilating intelligence, 
suffers only an animal activity to exist, plunged man 
into a sensual life, whilst ideal pantheism absorbed 
even the senses themselves in the delirium of perpe- 
tual ecstacy. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



57 



Equally remote from these absurdities, primitive 
Catholicism sustained during four thousand years the 
reason and the heart of man, by faith in a union with 
God, which, without degrading, admonished him of 
his weakness, and, without inspiring an equality, fixed 
him in the place which eternal order had assigned 
him. Bereft of that guiding faith, this anxious and 
feeble creature, hurried along on the waves of time, 
would have inevitably perished on one or other of 
these rocks — pride or despair. It is particularly since 
the preaching of the Gospel that the salutary influence 
of this leading dogma of Catholicism, the genuine 
polar star of mankind, has been more clearly seen 
and deeply felt. 

Christ is the truth personally residing among men. 
Cotemporary with Christ, the Church which received 
from his lips the eternal word, but clothed in human 
language, unceasingly communicates, under the same 
relative and limited form, the infinite Word to mortal 
intelligences, until passing from this region they 
become united to him in a more perfect world. How 
could this tradition of the Word have been even for a 
single instant suspended ? Could the Church in some 



58 



GEE-BET COT 



day-dream have imagined that word to be eternal 
which Was but of yesterday, or could she ever have 
said : I will announce what I have not learned ? Is 
it not notorious that she has always inexorably cast 
from her bosom every innovator who, substituting for 
common tradition his own ideas, sought, instead of 
transmitting truth to create it? In hearing theChurch, 
the faithful then hears Christ himself, who speaks 
to them as really as he did to his disciples seated 
around him on the Mount of Beatitudes. For the 
essence of the word is not the material sound that 
is borne on the wind, but that internal sound which 
vibrates in the heart, that expression always the 
same, which, though repeated by a thousand 
voices, invariably awakens the same thought, as 
an image reflected by an hundred mirrors is 
always the same image. Catholic tradition, ever 
preserving inviolable the primitive sense of 
Scripture, is not a word which stands alone, or 
independently of the word of Christ ; no it is the 
permanent vibration of his word through every 
point of space and time. 
But Christ is not merely the creative light of all 



THE EUCHARIST. 



59 



intelligences ; he has other relations with the posterity 
of Adam, a degenerate and dying tribe of this great 
and immortal society of spirits. " The word was 
made flesh" to heal by this regenerating union the 
carnal fever of the soul, the innate source of all 
our woes, and to wash in his blood the wounds of 
humanity. Thus the Church, in receiving from 
Christ the word which enlightens, received also from 
him the divine remedy, which she distributes to her 
children as she imparts to them the light of his word. 
The Word made flesh resides in the midst of them, 
always full of truth and grace. As formerly the 
crowd of infirm pressed on his steps to be healed 
by the virtue that emanated from him, so do the 
faithful at present labouring under the same malady 
hidden within them, approach with an humble faith 
to a participation of this divine remedy. 

What strikes the senses is the particular form under 
which the celestial element is veiled to communicate 
itself to the faithful, as the sounds which strike the 
ear attentive to the voice of the Church are only the 
sensible form, under which the divine Word pene- 
trates each intelligence. What is truly substantial 



60 



GERBET ON 



in these two communions, is Christ enlightening by 
his word, and healing by his efficacious presence ; 
the only immutable reality amid this perpetual change 
of forms by which he comes within the changing 
condition of our being, in order to raise us to the 
participation of his incorruptible being. 

Such is the vital principle of Catholicism. Here 
is the source of that power which it exercises on man, 
and which is universally recognised by its enemies. 
It sways him with all the force of the human presence 
of the Divinity. Separated from a faith in love, this 
belief would crush the soul. When contemplating 
the abyss of the heavens, a vague impression of 
immensity suddenly strikes the soul, and we fancy 
that there passes before our eyes the shadow of the 
Infinite Being, our imagination is stilled with stupor, 
and even our reason shudders. What would be our 
sensation were we to find ourselves immediately in 
connexion with the Eternal, the immense, the great 
Unknown, ignorant whether it be love or hatred that 
lies buried in the mysterious depths of infinity ? 
Thus, as tradition was weakened, faith in grace was 
also enervated, as may be perceived among many of 



THE EUCHABIST. 



61 



the Pagan nations. An overwhelming fear of the 
Deity was manifested by rites, the very recollection 
of which carries terror to the soul. We cannot easily 
form to ourselves an idea of these terrific creeds. 
Cradled from its birth in the fond embrace of 
Christianity, our soul has been inebriated with the 
confidence which she inspires. Hope, bearing the 
cross, walks before us singing on the path of life. A 
heavenly interpreter, she explains these mysterious 
figures of clemency which religion shows at every 
step, and stern justice itself is presented beneath 
the veil of mercy. The spiritual world, all resplen- 
dant with the emblems of the eternal union, is but 
the reflected glory of Christ, residing in the midst 
of men to satiate them with truth and love : so that 
this powerful faith in the human presence of the 
Divinity overawes our weak nature but in order to 
console and strengthen it. By the same force with 
which it might overwhelm, it exalts it, and commu- 
nicates to it, if we may so speak, by all the power 
it exercises on it, an impulse of ascension towards 
the superior world, where, in the unveiled presence 
of the Deity, intelligence and love will expand 
without an effort. 



62 



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Protestantism which has rejected this magnificent 
gift is the absence of Christ, as Deism is, in a 
more general order of ideas, the absence of the 
Divinity. With the Bible in his hand, the Protestant 
fancies that he communicates with the living Truth ; 
but is it on the material form of the words, or on 
their real sense that this communication depends ? 
And whereas it is the reason of each Protestant that 
determines for him the sense of the Bible, how can 
this ever varying reason be a transmission of the 
reason eternally unchangeable ? How can so many 
interpretations that destroy one another be an ema- 
nation of the substantial "Word, which like God 
himself, bears the character of unity ? There is 
between them that vast space which separates illusion 
from immutable reality. You imagine that you 
enjoy the immediate presence of the sun of intelli- 
gences, and nothing is present to you, save the 
shadows of your own mind. Deifying your thoughts, 
you believe that you converse freely with the Word, 
whilst you are separated from it by the profound 
abyss which pride has interposed. The Protestants 
resemble an unhappy wanderer on the deep, who 



THE EUCHARIST. 



63 



mistakes for the paternal shore those hills of mist, 
which are capriciously raised and destroyed by the 
winds. But the illusion soon vanishes. The fantas- 
tical horizon which surrounds them changes every 
instant : their inconstant opinions come into collision, 
separate, scatter, and suddenly reveal to them 
the waves of boundless scepticism. Hence the 
anguish of those who desirous of faith, but 
weak in will, are bound to Protestantism by 
temporal ties. They behold with terror the agitations 
of an unlimited scepticism which assail it on every 
side.* This spectacle, so afflicting to every Christian 
heart, hurries them into the opposite extreme. The 
propensity to illuminism, which has been found 
at every period among this class of Protestants, 
augments and strengthens in proportion as rationalism 
destroys the little faith which the reformation has 
preserved. f In this exaltation they seek an asylum 
against doubt. In effect every Protestant is placed 
in this dilemma : if he do not believe himself 
infallible, he has no certainty for his faith, if he 

* Cunctaeque profundum pontum adspectabant flentes. 
f Vide note ix. 



64 



GEE.BET ON 



believe himself infallible, each of his judgments 
must appear to him a ray of the increated intelli- 
gence. He ought, according to the remark of 
Bossuet deem all his thoughts to be emanations of 
tlie Deity ; an intellectual pantheism which directly 
leads to the other. 

A similar alternative is produced with regard to 
the sentiments of the heart ; for, owing to the unity 
of the human soul, the laws of intelligence and love 
are parallel. If the reason of each individual needs 
an exterior invariable rule, in order that it may not 
succumb to doubt, which is the consciousness of its 
own weakness, the heart too, particularly in the order 
of divine things, requires an exterior principle of 
love that may continually act upon it, to save it from 
its own inconstancy, its strong inclination to the 
earth, and its liability to become weary even of God 
himself. Hence it is that this perfect piety, exclu- 
sively peculiar to christian ages, has been developed 
under the empire of faith in the permanent presence 
of God whose delight is to dwell with the children, 
of men. In Protestantism the soul of man is deprived 
of this daily, and if it may be so said, this fond 



THE EUCHARIST. 



65 



communion, with him who is spirit and life. But as 
it feels the want of these frequent communications to 
maintain piety at the height to which it has been 
raised by Christianity, they are obliged, when they 
aspire to this spiritual life, to substitute for catholic 
faith in the real presence the dazzling fanaticism of 
inspiration. Then all the movements of the heart 
are a divine impulse, each respiration of the soul a 
communion, each affection is Christ himself. This 
mysticism, which in reality is but a sentimental 
pantheism, is also a sort of internal theurgy, differing 
from the ancient idolatrous theurgy in as much as 
it is purely spiritual, for Christianity has spiritualized 
every thing, even error itself. But this fanaticism 
consecrates in principle every folly as well as every 
passion; and the history of protestantism has 
demonstrated its results. On the other hand if their 
reason recoils at it, then feeling the impotence of 
attaining to that sublime christian piety, for the 
acquisition of which their heart, deprived of every 
exterior principle of love, finds not within itself the 
necessary conditions, they regard it as an idle dream, 
and falling into indifference on this point, the life of 

E 



66 



GERBET ON 



the senses resumes its empire over the life of the 
soul which becomes extinct. This two-fold tendency 
in the sentimental, coresponds to that which protes- 
tantism has presented in the logical order : for the 
fanaticism of inspiration is like the illuminism of the 
heart, and indifference is but the scepticism of the will. 
Just as man inclines to one or the other side, he meets, 
as we have seen, with pantheism or inanity. Pro- 
testantism must inevitably end by splitting into two 
classes : the one of mystical illuminati, tormented 
by a sort of monomania ; the other of sceptical and 
indifferent rationalists, with whom there will remain 
but the shadow of man, of that being who lives on 
truth and love. The majority of its followers, unable 
to support these excesses, will return in crowds to 
the Church, and this salutary movement has already 
commenced. Children of the holy City, look towards 
the desert ; do you not see that vast crowd of intel- 
ligences which have traversed it in the sweat of their 
brow, and who press to the gate of the habitable city ? 
Urbem orant. They seek that to which all the powers 
of reason and of the heart forcibly impel them, and 
which she alone can impart to them. For she alone, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



67 



possessing the secret of creation, which is neither 
the separation of man from God, nor his identity 
with him, unites even on the earth, in the most 
intimate manner, the finite to the infinite being by 
the principle of faith and of love. 

The various considerations at which we have 
glanced may be comprised in this formula. 6 ' Every 
system of religion exclusive of the real presence, is, 
by that degeneracy, in a greater degree inferior to 
Catholicism, than Catholicism hi its present state, is to 
the religion of heaven;" since that is but the eternal 
consummation of the union entered on here below. 

To express this great law of the moral world, the 
allegorical genius of antiquity would fix this inscrip- 
tion at the beginning of the road which leads to 
where Protestantism has nearly arrived. " The 
empire of death, where the father of gods and men 
never descends, sinks in the night of chaos a distance 
twice as great as the space embraced by the look of 
mortals, when, from the earth where God placed 
them, they raise their eyes to ethereal Olympus.* 

* Bis patet in preceps tantum, tenditque sub umbras. 

Quantum ad aetherum cali suspectus Olympum. — Virg. En. 1. vi. 



68 



GERBET ON 



The essence of true Christianity being every day 
more clearly perceived, in proportion as the ephemeral 
Christianity of sectarians wastes and disappears, the 
moment is approaching when reason shall see, almost 
face to face, this capital truth viz. , that the perpetual 
presence of the regenerating Word, under the 
emblems of a divine remedy, is the vital principle of 
Christianity in its relation with the heart of man, as 
the permanent presence of the Word, the eternal 
light, which the Church, interpreter of the divine 
Word, imparts to every man under the veil of human 
language, is the fundamental principle of Christianity 
in its connexions with intelligence. This admi- 
rable unity of the divine plan did not escape the 
pious author, who without an effort discovered the 
most sublime truths, because he contemplated all 
with an humble and a pure look. " For in this life, 
says he, I find there are two things especially 
necessary for me, without which this miserable 
life would be insupportable. Whilst I am kept in 
the prison of this body, I acknowledge myself to 
need two things viz., food and light. 

Thou hast therefore given to me, weak as I am, thy 



THE EUCHARIST. 



69 



sacred body for the nourishment of my soul and body, 
and thou hast set thy word as a lamp to my feet. 
Without these two things I could not well live ; for 
the word of God is the light of my soul, and thy 
sacrament is the bread of life.* Thus Christianity, 
as a whole, is but a great charity bestowed on a great 
misery. This is the secret of its unity : it is one by 
its merciful proportion to all our faults. At the sight 
of this touching harmony, reflection must give place 
to a hymn, and reason prostrate adores in silence. 



* Imitation of Christ, liv. iv., chap. It. 



70 



GERBET OTX 



CHAPTER Y. 



The Eucharist viewed in relation to the religious 
wants of the soul. 



There are two wants in human nature which Eeli- 
gion alone can satisfy ; the one, that of the practical, 
the other, that of the interior life. By the 
name of practical life, I do not mean that activity 
which is limited to the world of the senses, but that 
course of conduct which is connected with the moral 
order, as presented to us here below in the visible 
creation. For this temporary social state, comprised 
between the cradle and the grave, subsists, in a 
moral point of view, only in the continual application 
of the most sublime truths to gross and transitory 
phenomena. What, for instance, is a cup of 
water ? A means to purchase the possession of 



THE EUCHARIST. 



71 



God himself, if you choose to apply it by 
giving it to a poor man. Human life is composed of 
small actions which accomplish great duties. Man 
labours on the same material as the animal, but to 
produce a divine work. Shut up amid the dust of 
our terrestrial laboratory, we impress the features of 
the Deity on our clay ; we fashion, if I may so say, 
the image of the eternal beauty. Woe to every 
doctrine that would not lead man energetically and 
continually to this humble — practical life, on which 
society is based. Such a proud spiritualism would 
include the principle of universal dissolution ; for, 
according to the primitive belief, the intelligences, 
superior to man, are the ministers of God even in 
the government of the physical order, nay the 
Eternal himself did not disdain to mould the material 
element. 

But this practical life does not fill up the vast 
capacity of the human soul, nor exhaust all its 
activity. Whilst continually entering, to discharge our 
present obligations, into this narrow world of sensa- 
tions which is common to us with animals, the 
soul ever preserves a secret consciousness, and as 



72 



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it were a second view of another existence. 
Swayed by the instinct of futurity, she aspires to a 
state where the true, the good, the beautiful, freed 
from this gross alloy, will present themselves to her 
embrace under purer forms. Now, as soon as an 
intelligent being has an idea of a more perfect state, 
it ardently desires, without departing from the 
situation to which it is bound, to realize a transition 
from the one to the other ; for nothing is abrupt or 
defective in the harmonious developement of beings. 
Hence that order of sentiments which composes the 
mystical life, an expression too frequently misunder- 
stood, and which in reality signifies but a natural 
instinct of the soul, since it shews itself on all the 
points of the circle where sentiment is displayed. In 
fact who does not know that in the arts, in love, glory, 
heroism, man finds himself pursuing beyond all 
realities this ideal infinity whose extent is restrained 
and whose purity is tarnished by the positive order ; 
why then suppress these aspirations in Religion alone, 
which has the closest affinity with the end of his 
creation ? Why not seek for his entire being, what 
he aspires to in all its emanations? Why not prepare 



THE EUCHARIST. 



73 



for his destiny by a previous essay, like one who 
composes the prologue for a poem, or who prepares 
the prelude which precedes a concert ? To destroy 
this lofty instinct, would be to fetter all the powers 
of the soul, for the religious sentiment eminently 
embraces all others ; it would be to mutilate our 
being in its nobler part. The most abject materialism 
alone could embrace this state of degradation ! Man 
indeed would be but the perfection of a mere animal, 
were he not the embryo of a celestial spirit. This 
order of sentiments is to a certain degree common 
to all men profoundly religious, for it is but the 
reflection of faith in the heart. The poor peasant, 
who, listening to the exhortation of his pastor, whom 
he may not fully comprehend, tells you that his soul 
feels the truth of the appeal, enters according to his 
manner into the mystical life, as the people with their 
lyric songs and poems enter after their manner into the 
ideal of poetry. But in proportion as we ascend the 
scale of humanity,this disposition manifests itself more 
forcibly, particularly in superior minds, in the hearts 
of the elect, from Confucius and Plato, to Fenelon 
and Vincent of Paul. The purer the flame, the 



74 



GERBET ON 



higher it mounts, and the master spirits in order to 
support this mystical life are obliged to wing their 
way more frequently into that tranquil region, where 
they breathe the air of a more divine world. 

The two wants to which we have alluded must be 
satisfied that whatever is good and beautiful in 
human nature may have its free expansion. Suppress 
every trace of the mystical life, and you arrive at 
the brutal activity of the London populace. Suppress 
the esteem and taste of the practical life, and 
there remains but the senseless quietism of the 
Indian Priest. Every religious system which alters, 
in a single point, one of these essential modes of our 
being, approximates, in a greater or less degree, to 
one or other of these two species of degradation. 
The perfection of man depends on their simultaneous 
developement : the one restrains the soul within the 
present, the other impels it towards the future order, 
and as this star of the moral order, belongs to both 
worlds, it cannot accomplish its career but by the 
harmonious combination of this two-fold attraction. 

It has been frequently remarked that, when 
Protestant mysticism does not present itself under 



THE EUCHARIST. 



75 



the form of fanaticism, it for the most part sinks 
into a religious melancholy. Besides the injuries it 
inflicts on the intellectual faculties, this malady, 
weakening by its effects the activity of the soul, 
proceeds to attack the generative principle of good 
works, and consequently the moral fecundity of 
man, whilst among the sects hostile to mysticism, 
this moral decay is replaced, as may be seen in the 
metropolis of Calvinism, by a fever for gold and 
all the sensual enjoyments of life. Protestantism 
is opposed to the alliance of the interior and social 
life ; for, individualism in breaking the ties by which 
spirits are bound together, produces isolated forms 
of belief which in turn engender a solitary mysticism. 
The human mind under such circumstances seeks 
life within itself, for there also it seeks truth. The 
heart feeds with complacency on itself as reason 
idolizes itself, and, though rationalism and mad- 
ness have each their distinctive traits, if you 
examine more closely you will find in both but the 
Proteus of egotism. 

We invite every reflecting and philosophic mind, 
capable of applying the test of experience to the 



76 



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influence of doctrines, to contrast, in this respect, 
the spirit of Protestantism with the genius of 
the Catholic religion, which has unceasingly 
produced a parallel developement of the interior 
and social life, so harmoniously combined, that the 
action and reaction is uniform and continual. This 
is not the place to sound the depths of a subject 
which in order to be fully treated, should embrace 
the moral history of humanity. Not to depart from 
the limits of our present subject, we shall simply 
remark how, among the causes that concur in 
establishing the peculiar character of Catholicism, 
the eucharistic faith holds the first rank. It is not 
only a principle eminently active in each of these 
two orders ; but as they tend to separate, because 
the wants to which they correspond crave to be 
satisfied at the cost of each other, this tenet is the 
powerful link which inseparably unites them. For 
if this mystery, which is itself but an initiation to 
the mysteries of a future life, impel the soul beyond 
the present order, on the other hand the dispo- 
sition strictly necessary to approach it is the accom- 
plishment of all the obligations of ordinary life, and 



THE EUCHARIST. 



77 



particularly of those which one might be most in- 
clined to despise, and to consider most repulsive. 

Extending its vivifying influence to the two 
extremities of the moral world, it reaches at the 
same time the most humble duties and the loftiest 
aspirations of the soul. This bread of angels, which 
has become the bread of man, imparts to the faithful 
a two-fold existence. Like Raphael, they may say to 
these indigent souls who can only beg, at the banquet 
of time, the gross food of voluptuousness and pride. 
" I seemed indeed to eat and to drink with you but 
I use an invisible meat and drink which cannot be 
seen by man."* But the same action, which 
associates him with angels, reconducts him by 
the road of virtue into human society. For all is 
social in Catholicism, interwoven as it is with com- 
mon tradition. It is for this reason that the most 
magnificent gift of divine love is confided, not to 
an individual, but to the Church. She alone is its 
depository, as she alone is the depository of eternal 
Truth. Before the holy of holies can be approached, 

* Sed ego cibo invisibili, et potu quiab homiaibus videri non 
potest, utor.— -Tob., chap, xii., v. 19. 



78 



GERBET ON 



the individual conscience is submitted to the power of 
religious society, in the person of one of its ministers 
who pronounces the sentence of grace. The sanc- 
tuary is thrown open, and Penitence freed from 
remorse, and Innocence assured of its purity 
by the judgment of authority go hand in hand, amid 
the public prayers, to seat themselves at the universal 
banquet of the just. Thus the faithful are not 
admitted to this intimate union with Christ but by 
drawing more closely the links which bind them to 
the Church, the common parent of all Christians ; 
and the greatest act of the mystical life is itself a great 
social action. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



79 



CHAPTER VI. 

Social Life> — The Priesthood . Public Worship. 
Confession. 



It is by its priesthood only that religious society 
acts in the moral government of the world. This 
institution is associated with an order of ideas supe- 
rior to that which ordinarily strikes the mind, ever 
prone to stop at exterior effects, instead of penetrating 
the essence of things. The priest is presented to the 
view of man under the endearing attributes of the 
father of the poor, the consoler of the afflicted, the 
confident of the weary and heavy-laden conscience. 
But this Helo of charity which is the necessary 
emanation of the sacerdotal character is not its 
perfect type. The fundamental idea of the priest- 
hood was originally connected with that of Mediation. 



80- 



GERBET ON 



As sacrifice united to prayer were the figures of the 
expiation solicited by the aspirations of the human 
race, so those who were deputed to offer them up 
became the special representatives of the invisible 
Mediator, the supreme and universal Pontiff of 
creation. Hence that character of minister of peace, 
Mediation being but the peace of heaven with earth; 
hence the many privations which the creeds of all 
nations exacted from the priest, for he ought to bear 
more than other mortals a closer resemblance to the 
great victim; hence that perpetual or temporary 
continence recommended him by antiquity, and 
which, in many places, was of strict obligation. 
Mankind every where, and at the periods most 
disgraced by licentiousness, recognized in perfect 
continence the mens dimnior of sanctity. As poetry 
is a diviner eloquence, so chastity, which raises man 
above the senses, is as it were the sacred poetry of 
virtue. The social necessity, which interdicts to the 
generality of mankind the practice of this virtue, no 
more excludes it in the small number, than the 
necessity equally general of corporal labour destroys 
that other law of humanity, which to a small number 



THE EUCHARIST. 



81 



gives leisure to embody in song their lofty medita- 
tions. Mankind must have its elite. Let the sophist 
in his affected singularity pride himself on being 
insensible to the merit of chastity ; has he reason to 
glory at being divested of that perception of moral 
beauty common to the human race? Should his eye, 
on viewing the lily of the fields, the symbol of purity, 
be affected by sensations contrary to those commonly 
experienced, he would at once pronounce it 
diseased : does this vicious discordance change its 
character when it affects the moral sentiment — the 
vision of the soul ? When philosophy, even that 
of the material school, was forced to admit the fact 
that the " notion of chastity being pleasing to God 
pervaded the Globe."* Why did it not perceive that 
a moral phenomenon, so directly opposed to the 
propensities of man, from the very circumstance of 
its not being based on reasoning, must necessarily 
have had its source in a superior order. The general 
sentiment which supports and cherishes modesty, 
has ever connected with the work of the flesh a 

* American Letters of Carle, note of the Translator, Tom 
1, page 119. 

F 



82 



GERBET OS 



mysterious idea of pollution, an unaccountable 
sentiment, if it be not derived from a confused 
recollection of that original corruption which vitiated 
in man the very source of life. All the primitive 
traditions declared that the personage whom they 
announced as the future Redeemer of mankind was 
to be born of a Virgin. From this order of ideas 
arose the general disposition of imposing on priests, 
the substitutes of the Mediator, virginal continence 
and expiatory austerities; and if both have been 
mutually attracted by a sort of permanent affinity, to 
combine in the priesthood, it is because they had 
originated in a common source. 

All these ideas, diffused through the universe, 
were the as yet imperfect elements of the sacer- 
dotal character realized by Catholicism, and which 
could not have been accomplished till the Saviour 
himself had exteriorly realized the eternal sacrifice. 
The catholic priesthood is constituted like that of 
the primitive religion, by the relation the priest 
bears to the Mediator, a relation much more sacred 
and august since its immediate object is, not a 
typical victim, but the person of Christ, who is 



THE EUCHARIST. 



83 



at the same time priest and victim. Theology 
demies the priesthood to be — the functions relative 
to the true body of Christ, and to his mystical 
body which is the Church. The different degrees 
of holiness attached to the minor orders, are deter- 
mined by their connexion more or less direct with 
the Eucharist. The high and inviolable perfection 
of catholic celibacy is principally derived from the 
same cause. The Popes and Councils well knew 
that the conjugal state weakens the divine union 
which should exist between the pastor and his 
church, as well as his spiritual paternity, by placing 
elsewheie the centre of his affections and duties. 
They conceive that the priesthood ought to absorb the 
entire man . But, however strong this reason may be, 
sacerdotal purity springs from a higher source ; 
and all tradition points out its primary cause in the 
Tabernacle. Thus the institution of ecclesiastical 
celibacy, though its developement required time, 
and though it suffered many modifications, is 
universal in its principle.* If the oriental churches 
were in this respect less severe than those more 
* Vide Note xi. 



84 



GEREET ON 



immediately subject to the Papal influence, that 
relaxation confirms the rule ; for, though they did 
not impose it on all priests, of the second order who, 
according to their discipline, rarely celebrated the 
holy mysteries, they maintained it inviolable for 
Bishops. 

But if the priest, associated to the oblation of the 
supreme sacrifice, must raise himself by an angelic 
purity above other men, he must also humble 
himself beneath them, in order to take upon him 
their misery, carry their crosses, and, renewing in 
his person the suffering marks of the adorable 
victim, as well as the image of his innocence, offer 
up with the incense of prayer the burning holocaust 
of charity. The mystic immolation of which he is 
the minister prescribes to him the immolation of 
himself. All tradition has unanimously concurred 
in drawing this consequence from the Eucharistic 
dogma. Would I could relate here the innumerable 
proofs of this logic of love. I can only pray its 
prejudiced adversaries to make it the subject of their 
serious meditation. I would vouch that, on such a 
review, no honest man, whatever his errors might 



THE EUCHARIST. 



65 



be, could have the melancholy hardihood to declaim 
against so amiable a faith. Did it not yet find place 
in his heart, at least he would learn to respect it. 
Is there not something divine in every benefit ? 

But wherever sacrifice ceases, the man remains and 
the priest disappears. Look at the Jews : no where 
did the priesthood strike deeper roots than among 
that people ; no where was it surrounded by more 
veneration. What are at the present day the Rabbins, 
who have superseded the priests of that people now 
disinherited of all sacrifice ? The anathema which 
pursues their degraded ministry, has been proclaimed 
by the mouths of Israelites. " Their power, 
exclaim their own followers, can effect nothing * 
for the salvation of our souls." The same obser- 
vation applys to protestantism. The ancient idea of 
the priesthood is one of the human ideas which it 
lost with sacrifice. The day on which the fire of 
the eternal holocaust was extinguished, beheld the 
divine mark effaced from the brow of its ministers. 
The opinion of the protestant public refuses them 

* Jewish Consistories of France, by M. Singer, page 32, 
Paris, 1820. 



86 



GERBET OK 



that pious respect, which all the people of the earth 
have attached to the sacerdotal character. It does 
not exact from them these superior virtues which 
Catholicism imposes on its priesthood, and with great 
justice, for it would be unfair to expect a consequence 
when the principle had been destroyed. This 
equitable indulgence sometimes shews itself with 
great naivete. I shall select an example out of 
many, and that within the pale of the English 
church, which however has preserved, better than 
the other sects, some faint resemblance of the 
priesthood. Dr. Burnet, relating the legal assassina- 
tion of Charles 1st, admits that Bishop Juxon, who 
assisted him in his last moments, " performed his 
duty so dryly and so coldly, as to make little or no 
effort to infuse any lofty sentiments into the mind of 
his Boyal master " yet the mitred historian asserts 
that he did his duty as an honest man* Suppose 
that Abbe Edgeworth had acted like Juxon, could 
you conceive how a French prelate, writing the 
history of the revolution, would tell you that the 



* Hist of the last revolutions of England, Tom. 1, liv. L 



THE EUCHARIST. 



87 



confessor of the son of St. Lewis did his duty as an 
honest man, before that scaffold the foot of which 
was bathed with the blood of martyrs, and above 
which the heavens opened. Such a supposition 
would be revolting to the feelings of catholics, and 
in their eyes every priest who, in descending from 
the altar, possessed no other recommendation than 
that of being an honest man, would be a monster. 

Now if we consider, on the one hand, that the 
catholic priesthood tends, by its constant and univer- 
sal action, to lead men to the practice of duty, and, 
on the other, that the influence of the priesthood is 
proportioned to the veneration it inspires, we shall 
easily conceive how the Eucharist, of which the 
sacerdotal character, as understood in Catholicism, 
is the sublime emanation, already exercises in this 
respect a prodigious power in establishing the reign 
of virtue on the earth. Catholicism moves the 
world in order to elevate it to heaven, the priesthood 
is its instrument, the real presence, its support. 

All great influence, exercised on mankind, can 
only result from the combination of two different 
modes of action, for, in man as well as in all other 



88 



GERBET OS 



beings, we must distinguish what is general or 
common to the entire species, from what is purely 
individual. The public mode of action affects men 
collectively by addressing itself to human nature : 
but as it is differently modified in each of us, hence 
the necessity of an individual mode of action, 
corresponding to the individuality of every man. 
Catholicism combines, in a high degree, these two 
modes, for whilst by its public worship, it acts on 
the multitude, with unequaled energy, as is gene- 
rally acknowledged, confession constitutes its mode 
of action proportioned to the different necessities of 
individuals, it is the secret organ which particularizes 
for each of the faithful, this spirit of life that 
animates the vast body of the Church. 

The philosophers who have endeavoured to 
explain the origin of public worship have assigned 
every possible reason except the true one. The 
hypothesis of a primitive religion, invented by man, 
which is the basis of all their theories, has drawn 
them, by substituting abstractions for facts, from the 
sphere of real life on this as on many other points ; 
for every error originates in this elaborate absurdity. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



89 



They have done much to prove that public worship 
is useful, not suspecting that it is rigorously neces- 
sary. Eeligion having been originally traditional, 
and that tradition ' comprehending, besides the 
explanation of the truths primitively revealed, certain 
expiatory rites, which have been also regarded by all 
nations as of divine institution, can this common 
tradition be conceived without a common worship ? 
It was not then a mere expediency on the part of 
Religion, but the essential condition of its 'exis- 
tence. Thus, as soon as this two-fold basis of 
tradition is shaken, public worship totters and falls, 
as we see in the reformation : a thousand protestant 
voices have been raised to announce its ruin.* The 
protestant states of Germany have recently made 
great efforts to revive it : but does history present an 
example of a worship having been revived by police 
ordinances ? A jewish rigidity on the most minute 
points is united, in the English system, with an 
epicuran effeminacy, which makes the devout class, 
under the most trifling pretext, dispense with the 

* Vide, De Starck's work on the reunion of the different 
Christian communions. 



90 



GERBET ON 



religious duties prescribed by their liturgy. The 
negative part of their worship is maintained as a 
legal establishment, while the positive part crumbles 
to decay : this is the forerunner of death. Generally, 
in all the systems that reject tradition and the real 
presence, the ancient precept of regularly assisting, 
on the Lord's day, at the divine office, has lost its 
character of law, and at most is considered a council 
subject to the convenience of each individual. After 
all, why should it be necessary for a protestant to 
assist regularly at Church ? Has he not the Bible 
at home? Does he not recognise in himself the 
right of interpreting it ? Why then should he 
address himself to the Deity by the lips of a minis- 
ter ? In a system based on mental independence, why 
interpose a human agent between him and God ? 
His house ought to be his temple, as his reason 
is his priest. The marked tendency of Protestant- 
ism to concentrate itself in a domestic worship, 
will be the transition to a worship purely individual, 
the only one which indeed harmonizes with the 
logical principle of Protestantism. The same may 
be said of Deism, which reposes on a similar prin- 



THE EUCHARIST. 



01 



ciple, and which is the Protestantism of the primitive 
religion. 

With Catholics, on the contrary, social worship is, 
as it formerly had been, an essential condition of 
Religion. They are obliged to assemble frequently 
in the temple, to find what can be found only there — 
the two-fold tradition of truth and of the mysteries 
of love. The real presence, the focus of public 
worship, vivifies it by its perpetual action, and raises 
it to the highest degree of sublimity that a terrestrial 
worship can attain. The magnificence of Catholicism 
which spiritualizes the senses themselves, and the 
repulsive nakedness of Calvinism, may be considered 
as two extreme points, between which are found 
divers liturgies more or less meager, in proportion 
as the doctrine they represent is more or less remo- 
ved from the catholic mystery. All the ceremonies 
of the Church tend towards this centre of grace, as, 
in the temples raised by the genius of Christianity, 
all the lines of architecture have a beautiful but 
subordinate relation to the sanctuary ; this is the 
reason why the catholic worship, the expression of 
boundless love, as the physical world is the expres- 



92 



GERBET ON 



sion of infinite power, moves the heart as profoundly 
as the magnificence of nature impresses the under- 
standing. 

All is interwoven : the great moral causes act at 
a distance, and produce their effects even where the 
vulgar do not imagine their influence to reach. It 
is now sufficiently proved that mental derange- 
ment is far more frequent among a protestant than 
among a catholic population. This difference 
proceeds no donbt from the fact, that Catholicism, 
in submitting individual to the general reason, 
upholds the conservative law of intelligence, 
whilst individualism, by isolating and abandoning 
man to himself without a preserving rule, places 
him in an unnatural position, which is a perma- 
nent source of disorder and extravagance. But 
this first cause resolves itself, if I may so speak, into 
many subordinate ones, each of which partially tends 
to the general result. The influence of catholic 
legislation merits, on this point, serious attention. 
Let us limit ourselves to one of its results, which 
will lead to the discovery of many others. As soon 
as a disposition to mental aberration is developed, it 



THE EUCHARIST. 



93 



impels man to retire from society in order that he 
may live to himself. The instinct of this frightful 
malady urges him to seek, in intellectual indepen- 
dence, the freedom of delirium. But, in general, 
the evil is not immediately consummated. In the 
gradual passage from perfect reason to settled 
insanity, man will be found to retain sufficient power 
over himself to resist the savage want of isolation, 
provided an active principle, and particularly the 
most active of all, the religious principle, excite him 
to return to society and thereby to common sense. 
The precept which strictly obliges the catholic to 
renew, at least once a week, by assisting at the public 
worship, the relation which binds him to God and 
man, rescues him from this fatal solitude, where his 
intellect would have been bewildered in order to 
place him in a society of reason, peace, and love. 
Conscience obliges him to become a man that he 
may remain a christian ; and this act, frequently 
repeated, contributes more than is generally supposed 
to prevent or arrest the developement of madness. 

The real presence, the basis of the public worship 
by which Catholicism acts on men in the aggregate, 



94 



GERBET ON 



is not less intimately connected with the practice of 
confession, the organ through which it acts in a 
mode, corresponding to the various necessities of 
individuals.* On this point let us attend to an 
English Writer who, though catholic by conviction, 
was surprised by death within the pale of Protes- 
tantism, so true it is that God alone knows what 
passes in the depths of the human heart. "All 
nations, says lord Fitz- William,]" have their religion 
and their laws; their religion to inculcate virtue 
and morality, — and their laws to punish crime. In 
this the Roman Catholic, as well as all other states, 
contemplate but the same object. But in the 
Roman Catholic Religion alone are to be found 
laws whose authority is far more imperious, and 
concerning which no individual can deceive himself, 
by any species of art or sophistry ; laws calculated 
not only to inspire the love of virtue and morality, 
but which farther render it obligatory to practice 
them; laws which are not limited to the mere 
punishment of crime, but extend to its prevention. 

* Vide, Note xii. 
f Letters of Atticus, dedicated to Louis xviii, then in England. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



95 



These laws consist in the obligation which they 
impose on all Eoman Catholics of communicating 
at least once a year ; in the veneration which they 
inculcate for that sacrament, and in the indispensible 
and rigorous preparation which they exact in order 
to receive it, or, in other words, in the belief of the 
real presence, confession, penance, absolution, and 
communion, on which they are based. 

It may be truly said that in Eoman Catholic 
States the entire economy of social order turns on 
this pivot. It is to this wonderful institution they 
owe their strength, their duration, their security, 
and their happiness : hence arises an incontestable 
principle, a sound maxim, which is the last link of 
that long chain of reasonings which I have just 
established, namely, that it is impossible to frame 
any system of government whatsoever, which will 
be permanent and advantageous, unless it be 
founded on the Roman Catholic Religion. Every 
other system is illusive. 

The precepts which this Religion imposes on its 
children, and the restraints to which it subjects 
them, are so little known to the sectaries who assail 



96 



GEKBET ON 



it, that indeed they can scarcely have any notion of 
them. Some through ignorance are blind to them, 
and others from prejudice treat them with ridi- 
cule. In order then to instruct the ignorant and 
undeceive the prejudiced, I must inform them that 
all Roman Catholics are obliged to communicate at 
least once a year, regard however being had to the 
state of their conscience. Previously to the receiving 
of this most august sacrament, before which the most 
courageous among them are seized with fear and 
trembling, they must all, without distinction or excep- 
tion, confess their sins in the tribunal of penance ; 
and no minister of that dreaded tribunal can permit 
them to approach the Holy Table, until they shall 
have punned their hearts by all the dispositions 
necessary for the purpose. Now those indispensable 
dispositions are contrition, the full and candid 
acknowledgment of all the faults of which they 
have been guilty, atonement for all injustices, 
restitution of all goods unlawfully acquired, pardon 
of all injuries, the abandonment of every criminal 
and scandalous connexion, and the eradication 
of envy, pride, hatred, avarice, ambition, dissi- 



THE EUCHARIST. 



97 



mutation, ingratitude, and every sentiment opposed 
to charity. Besides in that tribunal they must 
solemnly pledge themselves before God to avoid 
even the slightest faults, and to observe with a scru- 
pulous exactitude all the sublime laws of the Gospel. 
JFlwever, as the Apostle says, would approach the 
holy table without these dispositions, and not discer- 
ning the body of Jesus Christ, would receive his 
own condemnation. Such is, and such has always 
been, during eighteen hundred years, the fundamen- 
tal and immutable doctrine of the Eoman Catholic 
Church. And if it shall be objected that her children 
are wicked or perverse, notwithstanding the links 
wherewith she binds them, and the duties she impo- 
ses upon them, what shall we say of the man who is 
freed from these salutary restraints ? 

What security, what pledge is not exacted from 
every individual for the performance of his social 
duties ; for the exercise of every virtue, integrity, 
benevolence, charity, mercy ! Where shall we find 
anything similar to this? Here conscience is 
regulated before the tribunal of God himself, not 
before that of the world. Here the culprit is 

G 



98 



GERBET ON 



his own accuser, but by no means his own judge. 
And whilst the christian of a different communion 
superficially examines himself, decides in his own 
cause, and indulgently absolves himself, the catholic 
christian is scrupulously examined by another, 
awaits his sentence from Heaven, and sighs after 
that consoling absolution which is accorded, refused, 
or deferred, in the name of the ]&ost High. What 
an admirable means for establishing between men 
mutual confidence, and perfect harmony in the 
discharge of their duties ! 

To pronounce on all questions of general impor- 
tance, it is both just and right that our reasonings be 
grounded on their general effects. Such is the course 
I have adopted. But so great, alas, is human frailty, 
that all Eoman Catholics, I must admit, do not 
profit by the advantages afforded them. It is then 
the duty, as indeed it is the highest interest of a 
wise and vigilant government, to oppose any relax- 
ation in the principles I have now developed. If in 
a Roman Catholic State no person swerved from 
their observance, the question would not be : which 
is the best government? but rather in such a 



THE EUCHARIST. 



99 



government what necessity for other laws? perhaps, 
in such a case, all human laws would be as useless, . 
and superfluous, as they are certainly ineffectual 
wherever the Roman Catholic Religion is not their 
basis." Lord Fitz- William, resuming his observa- 
tions, reduces them to two social aphorisms which 
cannot be too profoundly meditated. 

Virtue, justice, and morality, should constitute 
the basis of all governments. 

It is impossible to establish virtue, justice, and 
morality, on any solid foundation, rmthout the 
tribunal of penance, because that tribunal, the most 
formidable of all, takes cognizance of the conscience 
of man, and directs it in a manner more efficacious 
than any other ; now that tribunal belongs exclu- 
sively to the Catholic Church. 

It is impossible to establish the tribunal of 
penance without a belief in the real presence* that 
principal basis of catholic faith, because without 
that belief the sacrament of communion loses 
its dignity and value. Protestants approach the 
Holy Table without fear, for they receive only 
a sign commemorative of the body of Jesus Christ. 



100 



GERBET ON 



On the other hand Catholics approach it with 
dread, because they receive the very body of their 
Redeemer. Thus wherever this belief was destroyed 
the tribunal of penance ceased with it ; confession 
became useless, as wherever this belief exists 
confession is essential. And this tribunal, which is 
necessarily established with it, renders imperative 
the exercise of virtue, justice, and morality. 
Therefore as I have already said it is impossible to 
frame any 'permanent or advantageous system of 
government , which is not founded on the Roman 
Catholic Religion. 

Here then we have the solution of the most 
important of all questions, (next to that of the 
immortality of the soul,) that can be presented to the 
consideration of man, namely — Which is the best 
government ? The more we study this question, the 
more we shall perceive that the doctrine of the real 
presence applys not only to governments, but to all 
human affairs, that like the diapason in music, it 
forms the concord of the entire, and becomes to the 
moral what the sun is to the physical world. 
Illumians omnes homines St. John. 



THE EUCHARIST, 



101 



CHAPTER VIL 

Catholic Charity. 

If we contrast the nations who lived under the 
primitive religion with those who have received 
Christianity fully developed, we shall immediately 
perceive that the sentiment of love has attained 
among the latter a superior degree, corresponding 
to a more perfect knowledge of the divine love. Eden 
revealed the goodness, but Calvary, the charity of 
God. From that hour man learned to love more 
perfectly. 

Creation — by which God, without imparting him- 
self to man, gave something from himself, was a 
magnificent boon of the infinite Being. Such was 
the type of ancient beneficence. Man learned to 



102 GERBET ON 

share with his fellow man his superfluous goods, 
after the example of him who communicated to 
man, made to his likeness, a portion, and as it were, 
the superabundance of the inexhaustible riches of 
his own being. Hence the precept of charity ever 
remained associated in the tradition of all nations 
not excepting those in a state of barbarism, with 
the recollection of the supreme benefactor, the 
Father of the human family. " We all belong to the 
same family, said the chief of an American tribe, 
we are all the children of the great Spirit. When 
the white man put their foot for the first time on our 
lands, they were oppressed with hunger ; they had 
no place where to prepare their beds, or light their 
fires ; they were exausted ; they could do nothing 
for themselves. Our Fathers had pity on their 
distress, and willingly shared with them all that the 
great spirit had given his red children."* 

For the same reason, the beneficence prescribed 
by the primitive religion did not attain a degree, 
superior to the practice of alms, and other works of 

* Memoirs of a Captive among the Indians ofNorth America^ 
London. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



103 



a similar nature. Where, in effect, could man have 
discovered the idea of a more perfect beneficence 
than that of which God had given him the example. 
But when the heavens opened, and this great mys- 
tery of piety * shone forth in all its splendour, 
the horizon of charity expanded. In not limiting his 
bounty to partial benefits, as he had already done by 
creation, but becoming himself the gift he bestowed 
on man, God revealed an order of beneficence until 
then unknown. The mysterious veil, which shrou- 
ded from human intelligence the sight of the Holy 
of holies, or love in its absolute perfection, 
was rent asunder, and the world contemplated face 
to face, on the mountain of sacrifice, the living 
archtype of an infinite devotedness. Enlightened 
and animated by this revelation of love, human 
nature felt within itself the developement of a new 
sentiment. The intelligence of the heart, to use 
scriptural language, soared above its ancient limits, 
and man learned to love and serve his fellow 

* Manifesto magnum est pietatis sacramentum, quod mani- 
festatum est in carne. Epist, pr. ad Timoth. cap, iii. v. 16. 



104 



GERBET ON 



man, not merely at the expence of what he possessed, 
but even at the sacrifice of his repose, his health, 
and his life. We had seen, under the influence of 
the primitive religion, men immolate themselves 
for their parents, friends, and country, but none 
for man, considered only as a member of the 
human family. The perpetual miracle of christian 
charity is, to have raised even to devotedness this 
sentiment of beneficence which, under the primitive 
society, was the link that united the family of man- 
kind in the bonds of affection. It transcends 
ancient beneficence as much as sacrifice does a mere 
act of kindness. In this particularly consists the 
regeneration of love. The beneficence that was 
limited to alms was charity in its infancy, as yet 
restrained by the elements of this world. It was at 
the foot of the cross it attained its maturity. From 
that moment, replenished with courage and life, it 
rejoices in the most painful labour, triumphs over 
all the repugnances of nature, faces death with a 
serene eye, and on its pale brow exhibits the halo of 
martyrdom. 

Hence we see that protestant countries, which 



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105 



deem the subscription list, the test of christian charity 
and reduce it to a mere question of arithmetic, have 
lost its genuine notion. The Saviour having come, 
not to destroy, hut to fulfil the law, there is no 
doubt but the ancient and universal precept of alms- 
giving ought, not only exist, but be more generously 
observed by the nations which have felt, in any 
degree, the influence of Christianity, and that such 
is the fact will appear in the most striking manner, 
by comparing Mahometanism, one of the most degra- 
ded among the christian sects, with the most 
distinguished of the Pagan nations. This sort of 
beneficence which is to be seen wherever the primi- 
tive religion has been known and practiced, ought 
also be found among protestant nations ; for, as long 
as the principle of mental independence has not 
produced its last results, it must necessarily preserve 
some common faith in these primitive truths, without 
which no society, be it even barbarous or corrupt, 
could exist. It is equally incontestible that the 
countries separated from catholic unity, among whom 
a true and modest beneficence is practiced, superior 
by its activity to that of ancient nations, are 



106 



GERBET ON 



precisely those where the mass of the people, less 
subject to the sceptical action of individual rationa- 
lism, have preserved, by virtue of a contrary principle, 
more positive faith in those christian dogmas which 
ancient protestantism had borrowed from the Catholic 
Church. But as the character which particularly 
distinguishes christian devotedness from primitive 
beneficence, does not merely consist in a greater 
multiplicity of good works of the same class, but 
rather in a new species of good works, the Church, 
the depository of genuine Christianity, ought not only 
perpetuate this beneficence of the primitive times, 
of which the creative bounty was the model, but 
further she ought unceasingly produce that perfect 
charity whose type is found in the sacrifice of 
redemption. 

The comparison of Catholicism with protestantism 
presents, on this point, a remarkable phenomenon of 
the moral world, which attracted the attention of 
Voltaire. " The nations separated from the Roman 
communion have but imperfectly imitated, that 
generous charity"* by which the latter is charac- 
Essay on manners, torn. iii. c. 139. 



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107 



terised. As the spirit of any church eminently 
shews itself in its clergy, let us compare with the 
catholic priesthood, I was about to say the priesthood 
— no, the ministry of the protestant communion. I 
readily admit all the traits of individual beneficence 
which may be quoted in its favour. One thing only 
I ask ; shew me in that clergy, as a body, the spirit 
of sacrifice. I have not met with a single instance 
in their history, even at the period of their greatest 
religious fervour, to prove that they had received 
grace to brave pestilence in the discharge of the first 
of their duties, " In 1543 some ministers presented 
themselves to the council of Geneva, confessing that 
it was their duty to console those who were attacked, 
by pestilence, but none of them having courage 
enough to do so, they prayed the council to pardon 
them their weakness, God not having given them 
grace to encounter the danger with the necessary 
intrepidity, with the exception of Mathew Geneston, 
who offered to go if the lot should fall on him" * 
How different the language which Cardinal Borromeo 

* State Registeries of the Genevian Republic, from 1535 to 
1792. 



108 



GEHBET ON 



addressed to his clergy almost at the same time, and 
in similar circumstances. " The most tender care 
that the best of fathers can bestow on his children in 
this time of desolation, the Bishop should bestow on 
his people both by his zeal and his ministry, in order 
that other men, stimulated by his example, may 
embrace, all the works of christian charity. As to 
parish priests and all those who have charge of souls, 
far from them be the thought to deprive their flocks 
of the most trifling services, at a time when they are 
so essential to them. Let them take the fixed 
determination to brave them all with a good heart, 
even death itself, rather than abandon, in this utter 
destitution of all aid, the faithful confided to their 
care by Christ who purchased them with his blood."* 

* Tempore pestilentias episcopus qusecumque pietatis officia 
a parente optimo filiis praestari afflictissimo illo tempore opor- 
teat, ea studio et ministerio suo ita praestabit ut ad omnia 
caritatis christianae opera caeteri homines inflammentur. Parochi 
autem, animarumve curatores, tantum abest ut necessario 
co tempore populum cujus curam geruut, aliquo modo destituanr, 
ut fixa auimi deliberatione sibi statuendum putent omnia prorsuF- 
etiam mortis pericula, paratissimo animo subire, potius quam 
fldeles Christi sanguine redeinptos ac sibi praecipue in curam 
traditos in summa pene omnium adjumentorum necessitate 
deserere. Concil, mediol, v. part ii ; cap. 4. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



109 



Neither he, nor his priests, nor so many poor friars, 
at whom the intrepid pastors of Geneva were accus- 
tomed to sneer in safety, waited until the lot should 
fall on them to fly to the bed of pestilence. A 
parralel instituted between the conduct of both 
clergy amid such frightful calamities would afford 
matter for a moral statistic replete with interest. At 
all periods, and even recently, when a contagious 
malady was devastating some cantons of Germany, 
where the two religious creeds came in contact, the 
same contrast was strikingly manifested : it attracted 
the notice of the public journals. In fact we find it 
to prevail every where: "compare the protestant 
missions to our missions: what an unspeakable 
difference in the spirit which forms them, the means 
by which they operate, the success with which they 
are respectively attended ! Where are the protestant 
ministers who sacrifice life in announcing to the 
American Savage or to the learned Chinese the good 
tidings of salvation ? England may, as long as she 
please, boast of her apostles at Lancaster and her 
bible societies ; she may, in pompous reports, describe 
the progress of agriculture among the Negroes, and 



110 



GEB.BET ON 



of the elementary sciences among the Hindoos ; all 
these pitiful counting-house missions, whereof policy- 
is the sole mover, as gold is the sole agent, only 
serve to demonstrate' the incurable religious apathy 
of protestant societies, alive to interest alone, and 
whoever can distinguish a noble action, inspired by 
a sublime motive, from a proceeding dictated by 
mercenary calculation, must recognise, if he be 
sincere, how infinite the distance between the Bishop 
of Tabarca, who lately fell by the sword of persecution, 
in the midst of the flock gained to Christianity by 
his courage and labours, and the Methodist missi- 
onary, whose prudent zeal conducts him only to 
places where his life is not exposed to danger, and 
who, according to a previous contract, is paid by the 
head for his converts.'"* Transcending the limits of 
this world, the devotedness of our missionaries has 
embraced every species of suffering and death. They 
have been seen crowding the dungeons of Constan- 
tinople, expiring with the hymn of triumph on their 
lips beneath the tomahawk of the savage, and pouring 

* Melanges of the Abbe de la Mennais, torn. 1, p. 3G6. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



Ill 



out in torrents on the Calvaries of Japan the blood 
of redemption which flowed in their veins. Name 
the desert, the rock of the ocean, unvisited by 
conquest or commerce, which has not been rendered 
glorious by the tomb of some martyr of Catholic 
Charity. And whilst the love which animates the 
Church would appear to be exhausted from so many 
losses, we perceive it, issuing from her bosom, in 
various forms, in these numerous religious congre- 
gations, whose members devoted body and soul to 
the service of suffering humanity, offer themselves 
up as a holocaust of charity ; a devotedness which is 
in many respects more touching than that of martyr- 
dom. For if an effort of courage be necessary to 
sacrifice life, something still greater is required in 
order to support an entire life of sacrifice. A 
Protestant journal, wishing to cite the two heroes 
of Christian charity, selected among the Catholics 
Vincent of Paul, and among the Protestants, not a 
minister, what indeed is truly remarkable, but a 
worthy philantrophic traveller. A single trait will 
suffice to characterize these two men. The monument 
raised in "Westminster Abbey to the memory of 



112 GERBET ON 

Howard, represents him holding in his hand plans of 
beneficence on a roll of paper. The poor Catholic 
priest has recorded his, as God has stamped his 
power, in his works, and one of his creations is the 
heart of those virgins who are the heroic mothers of 
all the unfortunate. 

What is the donation of some pieces of gold, 
which does not deprive the rich man of a single 
enjoyment, compared with the bestowal of one's self*? 
Who is not struck by the difference between a 
subscriber to the Bible Societies and a sister of 
charity ? The retiring modesty of Catholic devoted- 
ness serves but to increase its splendour. I appeal 
to the conscientious testimony of all for the fact, that, 
though Protestantism presents administrations of 
beneficence, we look in vain for the humble victims 
of charity wherever it prevails. 

Let us now attend to the important truth which 
results from all these facts. Christian charity is 
superior to ancient beneficence. What is the source 
of this superiority ? a more extensive manifestation of 
divine love. Catholic charity compared to Protestant 
beneficence, exhibits a similar superiority, which 



THE EUCHARIST. 



113 



consequently must have for its principle the true, 
and for the same reason, the genuine sentiment of 
this love. Protestant individualism, in impelling the 
mind to scepticism, gradually destroys charity together 
with faith ; benevolence withers away as the light of 
iruthbecomes extinguished L This is the grand cause 
to which all others are subordinate. But this general 
explanation leaves another question to be solved. 
As this degradation manifested itself from the com- 
mencement of the reformation, it remains to inquire 
which, among the articles rejected by ancient 
Protestantism, is that whose destruction has specially 
contributed to alter, and extinguish that glowing 
christian charity which characterizes Catholicism. 
Ask the Church by what means she daily excites, 
revives, and nourishes this wonderful sentiment ? 
Her only response will be, to point to the inscription 
which crowns the mysterious tabernacle; il It is thus 
God lias loved the world." When love is to be 
explained, whom will you believe, if not those 
who love. 

To comprehend in its full extent the action of this 
principle of love, we should call to mind how it raises 

H 



114 



GERBET ON 



to a superior degree of sanctity the duties of primitive 
beneficence, whilst it nourishes at the same time that 
spirit of sacrifice which is the peculiar character of 
Christianity. Charity does not enter into the human 
heart without a struggle, for there it finds an eternal 
opponent — pride, the first born of egotism, and the 
parent of hatred. The contempt of man for his 
fellow man produced the cruel theories of slavery, 
which existed among the degenerate nations of 
antiquity. But as soon as Christianity had stamped 
on the brow of all the seal of an august 
fraternity with him who is at the same time 
both man and God, these theories quickly disap- 
peared. Nevertheless, as in reviving the sentiment 
of the dignity of human nature, it respected, in the 
inequality of conditions, one of the elements of 
our present social state, pride, abusing this 
necessary order for the purpose of re assuming 
some at least of its former enjoyments, endeavours 
to create a petty slavery even under the empire of 
love. The insolent disdain so often manifested for 
the poor, and the harsh treatment of servants, furnish 
the proof. But, as in raising human nature to a 



THE EUCHARIST. 



115 



union with the Divinity ; Christ broke the degrading 
yoke that had so long pressed upon it, so by imparting 
himself to man in the holy communion, which in 
a certain sense deifies the Christian, he perpetually 
combats in our morals the very shadow of that ancient 
barbarism which still lingers among us. Never, 
indeed, did the dogma of fraternal equality receive 
a more sacred sanction. Its most expressive sign, 
consecrated by universal custom, is a participation 
of the same repast. Here, the great and the humble, 
the young and the old, the rich and the destitute, 
come together to the same table, as to a family feast, 
and this feast is— God himself. The beggar, who this 
evening is at your gate, on to-morrow will place 
himself by your side at the banquet of eternal life. 
Know you whence comes this poor servant who 
suffers so much from your imperious temper ? He 
enters your house amid the reverence of angels ; for 
he bears within him the God who shall judge you. 
Whoever will closely observe the character of the 
Christian nations will easily recognise this secret, 
but constant action, of faith in the real presence. 
It is to it we owe, at least in part, one of the most 



116 



GEE BET ON 



beautiful traits of our manners :— the dignity of the 
servant, the notion and sentiment of which, some 
nations, particularly England and Geneva, would 
seem to have lost. 

The poor man is a superior being in Christianity. 
His eminent dignity is one of the first articles of the 
symbol of charity. We blindly disdain his apparent 
lowliness : but what state more lowly, what more 
obscure, what comes nearer to annihilation, than 
that in which Jesus Christ presents himself to us ? 
He who has said "This is my body, this is my blood" 
has also said " As long as you did it to one of these 
my least brethren you did it to me."* If our faith 
be not lively enough to recognise, under the rags 
of misery, the representation of the Prince of the 
future world, how shall it adore, under the 
meanest emblem, the majesty of the Master of the 
universe ? Each mark of contempt towards the poor 
contains a principle of infidelity and the germ of 
blasphemy. Let us penetrate more deeply the great 
mystery of faith : communion, unaccompanied by 

* Amen dico vobis : quamdiu fecistis uni ex fratribns meis 
minimis, mihi fecistis — St, Matt, xxv. v. 40. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



117 



works of charity, would be like an unpropitious 
sacrifice interrupted by crime, a sacrifice without a 
thanksgiving. Offered up in the temple, it is termi- 
nated in the hovel of the poor, for there too dwells 
the Son of Man. The hymn of Mercy is the comple- 
tion of the rite. These pious considerations, familiar to 
the faithful, daily produce acts of beneficence, that 
outnumber all the phrases of philosophers on the 
subject. Do you refuse to recognise the force of 
these sentiments, because they bear the impress of 
mysticism ? But is not the marvellous influence 
which Christianity has exercised throughout the 
universe connected with ideas of the same order. 
What are the boasted achievements of rational 
beneficence, when contrasted for a moment with this 
mystic charity, which, during eighteen hundred 
years, holding its vigil above suffering humanity, 
affectionately turns its bed of sorrow ? Ascend as 
high as you please into the regions of antiquity, and 
its records will inform you that all beneficent doctrines 
are based on mysticism. Viewed in this light 
mysticism has governed the world : its power dates 
from creation. 



118 



GEXLBET ON 



The benignant influence of the mysteries of love 
is particularly manifested in the pardon of injuries, 
that other miracle of Christianity. If, thanks to the 
healing art, the eye of man seeks the science of 
organization even in the bosom of death, why should 
we not find means for presenting to the eyes of 
the infidel the Christian soul, that he may there 
behold the organization of living charity ? Let those 
who have experienced the troubles, and the remedies 
by which its tranquillity is restored, bear testimony 
to it. When the fire of revenge, raging in the 
inferior appetite, threatens to inflame the will, some 
drops of the blood of the Man- God extinguish it in 
its birth. I do not believe that any man who com- 
municates with the necessary dispositions, if he 
should happen to discover, at that divine instant, 
even a shade of hatred until then latent in his heart, 
could endure the aspect of it. In addition to the 
authority of duty, so powerful at such a moment, 
and the voice of that blood which cries aloud for 
pardon, the state of the soul is then imperviable to 
any sentiment of hatred. There is within her too 
sweet a peace. The infidel can form no idea of 



THE EUCHARIST. 



119 



this order of sentiments ; but at least let him not 
blaspheme what he does not know, for indeed his 
doctrine will produce nothing similar. The precept 
which ordains the pardon of inj uries,is the great mystery 
of Christian morality, as redemption is the great 
mystery of faith. All human metaphysics are 
essentially inadequate, I do not say to procure the 
accomplishment of this duty, but even simply to prove 
that it is a duty. The heart of man feels that to 
pardon is noble ? Granted, but does it not also feel 
that there is a grandeur in an undying vengeance ? 
Where will you find in mere sentiment the 
obligation of preferring one emotion to the other ? 
Do you appeal to reason ? unaided by faith, reason 
tells you that vengeance is but the exercise of the right 
of self defence. In vain will you torment yourself 
with the abstractions of idiology : the duty of 
pardoning injuries will ever remain a consequence 
without a principle. It is an inference that can be 
drawn from Christian principles alone. When the 
wisdom of antiquity had the boldness to counsel 
this virtue, it connected it with ideas of divine 
pardon which constituted the basis of the primitive 



120 



GERBET ON 



religion. On this subject the genius of all antiquity 
is imaged in the beautiful allegory of Homer " The 
gods who are our superiors in virtue, rank, and 
power, suffer themselves to be touched by compassion. 
When men offend them by their crimes, they avert the 
anger of these superior beings, by offering them with 
humble prayer, incense, vows, libations, andsacrifices, 
' '•''Prayer •$ are the daughters of the great Jupiter " 
walking with a faultering step, — a furrowed brow,— * 
downcast eye — and sidelong glances, they constantly 
follow Injury, which, with a bold and light step, 
easily precedes them, and pervades the earth in its 
course of ruin. They come to repair the wrong which 
it has done. These daughters of Jupiter are bountiful 
to him who respectfully receives them, and they gra- 
ciously hear his petitions. If any person obstinately 
repel, or reject them, they supplicate Jupiter to send 
him Injury, that he may suffer condign punishment. "* 
Attend now to the Catholic doctrine. The pardon, 
which drew its being from the cross and which dwells 
in the tabernacle, waits not till prayer, with a down- 
cast eye, comes to blot out the traces of the 
* Iliad, chap. ix. 



THE EUCHAHIST. 



121 



offence. As the God-Saviour opens his arms to 
guilty mortals, and makes the first advance to heal 
the wounds which in offending him they have inflicted 
on themselves : thus Pardon, the first born of Christ, 
and like him every where present, precedes the tardy 
supplications of repentance, and hastens to offer itself 
to the wrong-doer. Eternal as his Father, he 
embraces all ages, for him there is neither yesterday, 
nor to-morrow : yet in favour of man he has his 
days of benediction and his hours of grace. When 
the congregation of the devout assemble for the 
sacrifice at which the libation of the redeeming blood 
is made, he watches at the door of the temple, and 
says to all who enter, " If therefore thou offer thy 
gift at the altar, and there thou remember that thy 
brother hath any thing against thee, leave there thy 
offering before the altar, and go first tobe reconciled to 
thy brother, and then coming thou shalt offer thy gift. ' ' * 
All those who bring a fraternal heart enter with joy, 

* Si ergo offers munus tuum ad altare, et ibi recordatus 
fueris quia frater tuus habet aliquid adversum te, relinque ibi 
munus tuum ante altare, etvade prius reconciliarifratri tuo, et 
time veniens offeres munus tuum. St, Matt. cap. v., v. 23, 24 



122 



GERBET ON 



for they bring the grateful offering ; and, when they 
depart thence to their abode, he says to them ; Go in 
peace. But if, deceiving his vigilance, some of these 
false brethren, who secretly sacrifice to Hatred, the 
queen of hell, dare to advance where love only is 
admitted, he awaits them at their return. When they 
pass before him, with a gloomy brow and a heavy 
heart, he gives them remorse, as a brother, who 
pursues their steps every where. They are condemned 
to his scathing embraces. Who shall tell the pangs 
by which they are tortured ? We only know that 
a terrible sentence is recorded, in their own 
breasts, by all the blood which has redeemed the 
world. 

The eucharistic worship, which is the exterior and 
perpetual realization of an infinite devotedness, which 
by daily awakening it, nourishes with this sentiment, 
the memory, the heart, and even the senses of 
man, penetrates his entire being with the spirit of 
sacrifice. Self devotedness becomes an habitual 
sentiment. It is this which gives to charity perse- 
verance and activity. For nothing can supersede 
the force of habit, and the heart, as well as the body, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



123 



has its habits. This action of the principle of love 
displays itself throughout the history of Christianity, 
and presents to the observant eye a magnificient 
experience. \Ye collect with a scrupulous curiosity 
the most minute details connected with the lives of 
celebrated authors : and very justly, for they are the 
notes of the history of genius. But how much nobler 
the subject, hi as much as it is more closely linked 
with the happiness of humanity, to seek in the life, 
the words, and confidential outpourings of these 
wonder-workers of charity produced by Catholicism, 
the secret of their incomparable devotedness. There 
it may be seen that, if the devotedness of Jesus 
Christ was its source, the communion of his body 
and of his blood was its daily nourishment, its 
remedy against the langour of nature, its vital 
principle which continually caused the pulse of 
charity to throb more quickly in the human heart. 
We shall give an illustration. The period comprised 
in the latter half of the sixteenth and the first half 
of the seventeenth century, beheld Francis Xavier, 
Francis of Sales, and Vincent of Paul, names every 
where in benediction, and which even humility 



124 



GERBET ON 



could not preserve from glory. This triumvirate, 
composed of different characters, is christian charity 
personified under its different attributes. Worn out 
by sacrifice, oppressed beneath the weight of the 
world he was converting, the heroic Apostle of the 
East, forgetting his fatigues, his sufferings and 
continual dangers, exclaims. " The severest pang 
of the missionary, is not to be able, in certain cir- 
cumstances, to celebrate the holy mysteries, and to 
be deprived of the Celestial bread which invigorates 
the human heart, and which is its only consolation 
amid the evils and contradictions of this life." * 
Let us now hear the angel of meekness : in tracing 
with an admirable naivete the wonders that com- 
munion effects in the saints, he did not reflect that 
he was pourtraying himself. "They feel, says 
he, that Jesus Christ pervades their entire being. 
But what does the Saviour effect by this pervading 
influence? He purifies all, mortifies all, reforms 
all, causes the heart to glow with affection, 
gives light to the understanding, imparts new 
vigour to the breast, beams from the eyes, 
* Letters of St. Francis of Xavier, Liv, cviii, anno 1552. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



125 



speaks with the tongue ; he becomes all in all: 
and then " we live, not we, but Jesus Christ 
liveth in us." * Would you wish now to learn 
from the mouth of Vincent of Paul what com- 
munion is ? " When you have received the adorable 
body of Jesus Christ, do ,you not feel, said he to 
his priests, do you not feel, the divine fire burning 
in your breast " ? f If, condemned to the galleys 
by human justice, in some reverie of fancy, 
I imagined that a perfect stranger, impelled by 
some unaccountable love for me, had come to take 
upon him my chains ; for the realization of such a 
day-dream, I must confess I would trust a little more 
to the fire which burned within the breast ofVincent 
of Paul, than to all the lights of philantrophy. 

The philosophers who admire Catholic devotedness, 
resemble the Egyptians who bless the inundations of 
the Nile, whose source they know not "Perhaps 
there is nothing more noble, says Voltaire, than the 

* Spiritual letters of St. Francis of Sales, liv. ii. cap. 48 — 
Lyons 1634. 

f Life of St.' Yincent of Paul. By Louis Abelly, Tom. iii. 
p. 183. 



126 



GERBET ON 



sacrifice made by a delicate sex of beauty, youth, and 
frequently of high rank, to relieve that aggregate of 
human misery collected in our hospitals, the very 
sight of which is so humiliating to our pride and so 
revolting to our delicacy."* The truth of this obser- 
vation is undeniable ; but why not proceed to an 
explanation of the cause ? Do you imagine that these 
retreats are inaccessible to the storms of the moral 
world *? that the human heart, which even pleasure 
fatigues, never sinks under sacrifice ? When in the 
midst of these gloomy apartments, it cannot but occur 
to those devoted beings as they bend above the un- 
known sufferer that, instead of the brilliant society and 
the fond family which they left, and to whose delights a 
single word would restore them, they must bind up 
the wounds of strangers, listen to the shrieks of agony, 
and follow to the tomb the friendless corpse, not for 
a week, or a month, but for years — for ever : think 
you that their courage is never shaken at the sight of 
such a gloomy future ? What then, it may be asked, 
sustains them in their weakness or preserves them 
from its influence? You know not: imitate the 
* Vide Essay on Morals, c. 139. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



127 



example of those who wished to know it — interrogate 
themselves. Frequent communion, such is their 
unanimous response. But a truce to words : what 
will you give them in place of this mystery of love ? 
If their devotedness is the very perfection of moral 
grandeur, why do you not undertake so glorious a 
work? Create for us, with your pompous maxims 
of beneficence, one Sister of Charity for a proof, only 
one* we ask no more. 

These reflections lead to a painful thought. Do 
these men who, since an ever to be deplored schism, 
are engaged by profession in combatting the faith of 
the Church, know what they are doing? Do they 
know that they are attacking a belief the most pro- 
ductive of every sort of beneficence, as it is that 
which supports in every part of the universe the spirit 
of devotedness and sacrifice ? May he who was 
meek and humble of heart, dispite of the haughty 
ingratitude of those whom he came to save, avert 
from our heart and lips every sentiment and expres- 
sion of bitterness against those unhappy scorners of 
the most magnificent of his gifts. And how could 
we speak to them otherwise than with the language 

* Yide Appendix. 



128 



GERBET ON 



of love ! If this language existed not, it should be 
invented when speaking of the Eucharist. But at 
the same time a sorrow, rendered indignant at 
witnessing its deplorable effects, urges us to raise our 
voice against their unhallowed ministry. Deeply- 
penetrated with this two-fold sentiment, we would 
not know how to express the mingled emotions of 
love and sorrow we feel for them, if we did not call 
to mind that word of Christ to the first despiser of 
the mystery of faith, that word so affectionate 
and so overwhelming. Friend whereto art thou 
come.* 



* Amice, ad quid venisti? St Math. Chap. xxvi. v. 50. 



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129 



CHAPTER VIIL 
The Interior Life. 

The mystical life is a moral phenomenon of all 
ages. The various religious treatises of antiquity 
contain theories of spirituality, which comprise the 
basis of this order of ideas, as it has been understood 
by all modern nations. But these theories are divi- 
ded into two clases which are diametrically opposed. 
The one, founded on purely philosiphical specula- 
tions, and principally on pantheism, tended to destroy 
the active principle in each man, that, by annihilating 
whatever is peculiar to the individual, he may be 
blended with the universal soul, and thus become 
absorbed in the Divinity. Diffused among a crowd 

of the oriental sects ; this doctrine appears to have 
i 



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originally come from India, and will be found 
developed together with the principle on which it is 
based and its demoralizing consequences, in one of 
the most ancient monuments of sanscrite literature. 
"He who knows" to use the language of Oupneck-hat, 
"that all things are the type of the Creator, that 
one's self and whatever appears to exist is the 
Creator; that the world proceeds from him, that 
he is the world, that it exists in him and returns to 
him ; he who knows this and meditates on it, finds 
therein the repose of his soul; he is in peace. 
When the heart has renounced its desires and actions, 
it then directly tends to its principle, which is the 
universal soul ; when it tends to its principle, it has 
no other will than that of the true being. It is the 
nature of the heart to be changed into what it 
desires; thus the soul becomes God or the world, 
according as its aspirations are directed to the 
one or the other. The impure heart is that 
which has its desires ; the pure, that which 
is divested of them. The heart absorbed in the 
perfect being by reflecting that the universal soul 
exists, becomes that soul, and then its happiness is 



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131 



ineffable : it knows that this soul resides within it. 
To be absorbed in God, as in a treasure that one has 
found, to affirm nothing, to propose nothing, to say 
nothing : either I or me ; to he without fear and 
without desire, such is the mark of salvation, and 
of supreme happiness. To desire, is to die ; not to 
desire, is to live. Whoever knows the universal being, 
whoever knows that his soul is the universal soul, 
becomes light; he is freed from all evil; he is lear- 
ned without tiresome study; he is happy, he is 
immortal, he is God. The desire to do a pure work, 
the apprehension to do abad one, trouble not the wise ; 
for he knows that both the pure and bad works 
are God himself (who acts.) The truth is there 
is neither production, decay, nor resurrection? 
neither contemplative, saved, nor salvation: for 
the world is but a phantom ; there is nothing real 
but the universal soul which shews itself under the 
appearance of the world." * 

Though clad in the garb of enthusiasm, this doc- 
trine presents a series of consequences, rigorously 

*Vide Analysis of Oupneck-hat, by M. Lauguinais. Anquetil 
Duperron's latin translation may be also consulted. 



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deduced from pantheism. Errors analogous, in 
many respects, to this imaginary mysticism which 
dates an origin of three thousand years, have repro- 
duced themselves, at different periods, in the bosom 
of Christianity, though by an inverse order. For, 
whilst the Indian quietists derived their theories of 
spirituality from pantheism, the European quietists, 
grounding themselves on a mistaken notion of perfec- 
tion, established, maxims that logically tended to 
the same point from which the others had set out. 
Their doctrine on the necessity of annihilating all 
individual operation of the understanding and of the 
will, cannot otherwise be conceived, than by 
supposing man to be a modification of the infinite 
substance: for if he be an intelligent creature distinct 
from God, as such he must be active ; matter alone 
being inert; and further as a distinct intelligent being, 
he ought to enjoy an activity proper to himself. 
Thus many of those mystics, drawing from their 
system of unification the same consequences as the 
ancients, derived from it also, like them, the indiffe- 
rence of all actions, and absolute impeccability, 
identifying, in the same way, the will of man with 



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133 



the will of God, the limited being with the 
infinite. Molinos, by the tendency of his system 
impelled to pantheism, announces it in terms so 
similar to those of Oupneck-hat, that one would 
be inclined to suspect, that the quietism of the 
seventeenth century was, like so many other 
systems, but the revival of the oriental doctrines. 

The principle that contains this great error lurks 
in the writings, meritorious in other points, of some 
ascetic authors, who, being persons of true piety, 
would have rejected it had they perceived its 
consequences. The devotion they inculcate, instead 
of regulating the activity of the soul, tends only to 
weaken and destroy it. The germ of all pantheistical 
quietism is contained in this mistaken notion, as far 
remote from genuine catholic devotion, such as it 
has been understood in all ages, as being is from 
nonentity. Notwithstanding this error, these ancient 
sages who may be denominated, according to many 
of the holy Fathers, as the primitive christians, often 
gave admirable precepts of spirituality. Derived 
from traditionary faith, their theories, instead of 
destroying the active principle, aimed at its deve- 



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lopement, exciting man to perfect within himself, by 
a continual purification of his heart, the living image 
of the Deity. Such is also, but in a degree neces- 
sarily superior, the spirituality consecrated by 
Christianity fully developed. It dilates and fertilizes 
the soul, as quietism paralizes it by a mortal lethargy, 
for it substitutes for this passive pleasure, which 
constitutes the essence of false mystisism, the active 
principle — love, which is to the moral, what fire, its 
ancient emblem is to the physical world — the 
universal stimulant. It may be interesting to con- 
trast with the pantheistical mysticism of Oupneck- 
hat the description of catholic devotion, given by an 
unknown author of a book translated almost into every 
language, the genuine christian Oupneck-hat, that 
contains the pure essence of the religion of love. 

" Love is an excellent thing, a great good indeed : 
what alone maketh light all that is burthensome, 
and equally bears all that is unequal. For it carries 
a burthen without being burthened, and makes all 
that which is bitter, sweet and savoury. The love 
of Jesus is noble and generous, it spurs us on to do 
great things, and excites us to desire always that 



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135 



which is most perfect. Love will tend upwards, and 
is not to be detained by things on earth. Love will 
be at liberty, and free from all wordly affection, lest 
its interior sight be hindered, lest it suffer itself to 
be entangled with any temporal interest, or cast 
down by losses. Nothing is sweeter than love ; 
nothing stronger, nothing higher, nothing more 
generous, nothing more pleasant, nothing fuller or 
better in heaven or earth : for love proceeds from 
God, and cannot rest but in God, above all things 
created. The lover flies, runs, and rejoices ; he is 
free and not held. He gives all for all, and has all 
in all : because he rests in one sovereign good above 
all, from whom all good flows and proceeds. He 
looks not at the gifts, but turns himself to the Giver 
above all goods. Love often knows no measure, but 
is inflamed above measure. Love feels no burthen, 
values no labours, would willingly do more than it can ; 
complains not of impossibility, because it conceives 
that it may, and can do all things. It is able there- 
fore to do anything, and it performs and effects many 
things ; where he that loves not, faints and lies 
town. Love watches, and sleeping, slumbers not, 



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When weary, is not tired ; when straitened, is not 
constrained ; when frighted, is not disturbed ; but 
like a lively name, and a torch all on fire, it mounts 
upwards ; and securely passes through all opposition. 
Whosoever loveth, knoweth the cry of this voice. 
Whosoever is not ready to suffer all things, and to 
stand resigned to the will of his Beloved, is not 
worthy to be called a lover. He that loveth, must 
willingly embrace all that is hard and bitter, for the 
sake of his Beloved, and never suffer himself to be 
turned away from him by any contrary occurrences 
whatsoever." * 

This active christian devotion, which nothing 
wearies, and that pantheistical insensibility, which 
nothing can excite, are the forms, the latter of 
egotism that destroys, the former of the spirit of 
sacrifice which is the conservative principle of the 
moral order. For quietism, which would appear to 
aim at the annihilation of self, tends, on the con- 
trary, to constitute it the centre of all things, and is 
at best but the ambition of a boundless egotism. 
On the contrary, in developing the activity of every 
* Imitation of Christ, Liv. iii, c. 5. 



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137 



individual, love, that lives only to embrace all, 
associates man to the action of the infinite being, 
emphatically so called — namely, the gift — and the 
sacrifice of self. 

However, as error has no innate principle of 
support, pantheistical mysticism includes a great 
truth. The absorption of man in God is but the 
corruption, of a primitive and eternal dogma — the 
union of God and man. In this point of view, 
there is something hi the system which responds to 
the wants of human nature. It aspires to this union, 
it endeavours to free itself from the bonds which 
bind it to what is changeable and perishable, that it 
may cleave to the immutable reality, for it feels that 
there alone is to be found the repose of pure liberty. 
So far is Catholicism from refusing to recognise these 
wants, that her consoling truths serve only to nourish 
and satisfy them. In promising man that one day, 
without divesting himself of his nature, he shall 
become one with God, it imparts to him, in this terres- 
trial union , the foretaste of a future imion. The nature 
of this union is such, that in order to express it, 
it employs terms similar to those of the pantheistical 



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system, and to which usage alone, regulated accor- 
ding to the explanations of a severe orthodoxy, has 
attached a sense formally exclusive of that great 
error. It teaches that God, by communion, so 
imparts himself to us, that the substance of Christ 
is mingled with our substance to make of him and us 
but one ; * that the result of this communion, is not 
merely a union of will, but of nature ; f and that we 

* Initiati dictis obsequantur, ut non solum per dilectionem, 
sed etiam reipsa, cum ilia came commisceamur; id quod 
efficitur per cibum quern ille dedit, volens nobis ostendere 
quanto erganos ferveat amore. Propterea se nobis commiscuit 
et in unum corpus totum constituit, ut unum simus, quasi 
corpus junctum capiti. St. Joames chris. horn. 46 in Matth. 

f Est ergo innobis ipse per carnem, et sumus, in eo, dum 
secundum hoc quod nos sumus in Deo est. Quam autem 
in co per sacramentum communicat se carnis et sanguinis 
simus, ipse testatur, dicens : et hie mundus me jam non 
videt; vos autem me videtis, quoniam, ego vivo et vos 
vivitis ; quoniam ego in Patre meo, et vos in me, et ego in 
vobis. Si voluntatis tantum unitatem intelligi vellet, cur 
gradum quemdam atque ordinem consummandee unitatis expo- 
suit ; nisi, ut cum ille in Patre per naturam divinitatis esset, 
nos contra in co per corporalem ejus nativitatem, et ille rursus 
in vobis per sacramentorum inesse mysterium crederetur ? ac 
si perfecta per Mediatorem unitas doceretur, cum nobis in se 
manentibus ipse maneret in Patre, et in Patre manens maneret 
in nobis, et ita ad unitatem Patris proficeremus : cum qui in 
co naturalitur secundum nativitatum inest, nos quoque in co 
naturaliter inessemus, ipso in nobis naturaliter permanente. 
St. Hil. de Trin. Lib. viii, No. 13 



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139 



are identified with him. * To express this unity, 
catholic faith does a happy violence to language, by 
imposing upon it an extraordinary syntax ; the noble 
antithesis of " Saint Paul, I live, no not I," is emi- 
nently expressive of the eucharistic transformation. 
Catholocism also teaches that, as Christ gives 
himself to us by love, this union cannot be accom- 
plished but in as much as through love we make 
him the offering of ourselves, and thus it eradicates 
the deep-rooted egotism of the pantheist. Two 
opposite systems of error have respectively failed to 
recognise an essential portion of human nature, 
viewed in relation to the point of which we now 
treat ; the one, whose germ is found in the stoical 
notions, and which has been, by modern Jancenism 
and quietism, connected with other ideas, commands 
man to love G-od, even in the supposition that he 
shall be eternally separated from him : it condemns 

* Quern ad modum enim si quis ceram cerse conjunnerit, 
utique alteram in altera invicemque imineasse videbit : eodurn 
quoque opinor modo, qui Salvatoris nostri Christi carnern 
sumit, sec ejus pretiosum sanguinem bibit, ut ipse ait, unum 
quiddarn cum eo reperitur. St Cyrii, In ev, St Joannes, c. 5, 
v, 56. 



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him to a hopeless and endless activity. The other, 
confounding man with God, and thereby concentrating 
all his energies in self destroys the principle of activity 
by destroying love. Catholocism combines the truths 
hidden in these contradictory errors. Uniting the 
want which impels us to look to God for peace and 
happiness, so essential to our nature, with that 
other want of activity by which alone nature is 
perfected, it corresponds at the same time to both, 
for it makes love, which is essentially active, the 
medium of a union with God. The reciprocal gift 
of God and Man, responding to each other — behold 
catholocism unveiled. This is the source — this the 
centre of every thing. 

The love of man for God, such as Christianity 
has infused into the mind and heart, is a wonder 
which we cannot sufficiently admire. Its universality 
makes it appear natural, and yet it is nothing less 
than the result of a most profound and intimate 
change in our moral constitution. The human race, 
agitated a long time by the recollection of its fall, 
passed through the ordeal of a salutary fear to the de- 
lights of perfect love, in the same way as a man bowed 



THE EUCHARIST. 



141 



beneath the weight of crime arises the beloved of God. 
We cannot go from one extreme to the other but by 
regular grades of transition. The sentiment which, 
according to the laws of the human heart, should 
first develop itself in sinful man is that of terror. 
But terror would immediately beget despair, if hope- 
did not at once present herself with a redeeming look, 
and sweetly lead him to the bosom of love. Such is 
the history of mankind ; for Providence governs the 
human family as an individual. Two sentiments 
divided the guilty heart of the children of Adam 
with regard to the God of holiness ; the fear of 
approaching him and the desire of being familiarly 
united to him. In the primitive religion, fear was the 
predominant sentiment. So deeply impressed was 
the worship of antiquity with it, that, when atheism 
endeavoured to explain the origin of religion, its first 
hypothesis was that fear had made the gods.* Not 
that hope bad ever abandoned the earth. A promise 
had been made our first parents, which caused all 
antiquity to proclaim, with the ancient sages of 
China, that when innocence perished, mercy 
* Primus in orlre Deos fecit timor. 



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appeared. * Nevertheless the original anathema, so 
vividly represented to the imagination by the show 
of those terrible rites that constituted the universal 
liturgy ; made a deeper impression than that 
mysterious salvation, but dimly seen through the 
shadows of futurity. From this unquiet and troubled 
hope there arose, after a struggle a love tremulous 
as itself, and, during forty centuries, the heart of 
fallen man appeared more susceptible of fear than of 
confidence. The Gospel has, in the full force of the 
term, wrought a revolution in the human soul, by 
effecting a change in relation to the two sentiments 
that divided it : fear has ceded to love the empire of 
the heart. The God of gods having abased himself 
to such a degree as to become our friend, f our 
br other, % our servant, § fallen humanity immediately 

* Chinese Memoirs, Tom. 1, p. 108. 

f Jam non dicam vos servos, quia servus neseit quid faciat 
dominus ejus. Vos autem dixi amicos quia omnia qucecumque 
audavi a Patre meo nota feci vobis. — St. Joannes, ch. xv. v. 15. 

% Non confunditur fratres eos vocare. — Ep. ad. Heb. c. ii. 
v. ii. 

§ Filius hominis non venit ministrari sed ministrare.— St. 
Matt. chap. xx. 3 v. 28. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



143 



raised itself to a sort of familiarity with the Omnipo- 
tent, the idea of which was utterly unknown to the 
ancients, and which they would have deemed nothing 
less than sacrilege. This is the genuine and 
distinctive mark of Christian nations when com- 
pared with others : but they do not all partake of it 
in the same degree. This sentiment has been 
visibly weakened among Protestants. And hence 
it is they deem the free and cheerful piety of Catholics 
an irreverence to the Deity. What is considered by 
them religious respect, is but a cold and gloomy 
reserve, which makes Christian piety retrogade 
towards the imperfection of the law of fear. Too many 
recollections of Sinai mingle with their worship of 
Calvary. If the difference which exists on this point 
between the ancients and modems proceed from 
the familiarity established by Christ between man 
and God, the difference that exists between Catholic 
devotion and the frigid worship of Protestants is 
necessarily derived from an analogous principle, and 
supposes that Catholics are more familiarized with 
Christ himself. This indeed is the result of faith 
in the real presence or permanent incarnation which 



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draws us to Christ, as the incarnation itself made 
us approximate more closely to God. It is no longer 
to humanity in general, but to each human being that 
the Word unites itself. It not only enters into the 
limits of our common nature, but even into those 
of our personality : it in some measure deifies our 
essence, and christianises the selfish principle The 
union which changes food into the substance of 
the body it nourishes, is the emblem of this incar- 
nation in us. To seek a more intimate union would 
be to desire to be the man-God. Who does not 
perceive that a worship founded on such a mystery, 
must raise to the highest possible degree this 
sentiment of familiarity with God whch is the 
basis of Christianity ? In our admirable prayers for 
communion, the soul speaks to Jesus, as the spouse 
to her well beloved, and fear to her is but the 
modesty of confidence. 

To form a correct idea of this mystery, viewed in 
this light, we must consider the order in which love 
is developed. It does not shew itself in a created 
being, till a superior being has lowered itself for the 
purpose of manifesting this sentiment to it. Such 



THE EUCHARIST. 



145 



is the invariable, the universal law, of which the 
idea is admirably expressed in those languages, in 
which the words,propensity and inclination are deemed 
synonimous with love. The child learns to love as 
he learns to speak. The tenderness of his parents 
awakens in his soul, as yet alive only to physical 
sensation, a superior order of affections till then 
unknown : his heart begins to throb at the smile of 
his mother. The general usage which obliges, in the 
conjugal state, man, or the strong being, first to 
manifest his love, originates in the same law which 
is not less visible in civil society. Fear is the first 
sentiment which power inspires. Should it desire 
love, it must commence by loving. This sentiment, 
like that of truth, is propagated from the high to the 
low, and this order which governs the present world, 
is equally developed in a more elevated sphere. 
Faith shews us numerous choirs of intelligent crea- 
tures, which lowering themselves towards us, antici- 
pate our friendship by a celestial friendship, and 
which in admirable gradation form an immense 
hierarchy of love. It might be said that creation 
rests on an inclined plane, so that all creatures 



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appear to incline towards those beneath in order to 
love and to be loved by them, thus passing from 
one to the other, and as it were from hand to hand, 
down to the lowest rank — that flaming torch kindled 
in the highest heaven, and caught from the bosom of 
eternal love. The Apostle of charity, soaring on eagle 
wing to the first cause of this universal law, exclaims, 
Let us love God, for he has loved us first.* He by 
whom all things were made : the Word of God, in 
creating myriads of intelligent beings, originally 
manifested to them his love under forms analogous 
to their nature, and consequently as various as the 
modifications of their being. By the very act of thus 
lowering himself to them, he must necessarily have 
appeared in a state of abasement, under a form of 
existence inferior to that which he has in the bosom 
of the Father. Thus, according to the philosophy 
of antiquity, creation was considered a sort of 
annihilation of the Divinity, as the beginning of a 
sacrifice whereof God himself was the victim. But 
follow up the progress of this divine abasement, 

* Diligamus Deum, quoniam, Deus prior delexit nos — 
Ep. St. Joannes, Cap. iv., v. 19. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



147 



whose boundless plan was marked out from all eter- 
nity by love itself. He whom God begat before the 
morning star, * who is the splendour of his glory, 
the figure of his substance, t in descending from 
his bosom, passed over the various orders of creation 
to arrive at the most remote region of intellectual life, 
at the extreme point where spiritual life ends, and 
blind existence commences. There he found man, 
who is kindred alike to angels and to brutes ; 
Sthe shadow of a Deity in the body of an animal. And 
the word was made flesh. Could he humble himself 
still more after having entered so deeply into the 
narrow proportions of a creature below whom no 
intelligent beings are found? His love desired a still 
more profound abasement. The God who concealed 
himself under the magnificent veil of nature, who 
shrouded himself in the obscure veil of humanity, 
entombs himself under the appearance of lowly 
matter, to be like it the food of man. There all 
disappears, even his human form : he is as if he were 

* Ex utero ante luceferurn genui te. — PsaL cix. 
f Splendor cloriae et %ura substantia ejus, — Cap. ad Heb. 
c. 1, v. 3. 



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not, and, arrived at the ultimate point of abasement;, 
he sinks into the bottomless abyss of our miseries. 
For each degree of divine abasement, there is a 
divine developement of human nature : the latter 
ascending in love to God, in proportion as the former 
descends by charity to man. The ancient doxology 
to the good and great God, is the summary of the 
piety of the first times, but when he who governs us 
had become the Emanuel, the God whose greatness 
as Bossuet remarks is founded more on goodness than 
on power, he created in man a new heart. The 
sentiment of his love was more vivid than the recol- 
lection of his majesty, and Christianity, in preserving 
the sublimity of ancient language to describe the 
formidable power of him who is, has added nothing 
thereto, whilst it has formed with the elements 
of primitive language an idiom specially consecrated 
to the use of love. In this language taught by the 
Gospel, faith in the Eucharist has formed a magnifi- 
cent and tender dialect, the exclusive property of the 
Catholic Church. Its type is found in a fragment 
of holy writ, bearing a peculiar character, namely, 
the Canticle of Canticles. As the Apocalypse which 



THE EUCHARIST. 



149 



exhibits to us the sublime figure of justice driving, 
from age to age, iniquity towards the abyss, forms 
by its terrific imagery a striking contrast with the 
serenity of the Gospel of mercy, so the Song of 
Solomon exhibits a difference not less remarkable 
with the austere majesty of the old Testament. It 
was the prophecy of a mystery of love which time 
was to unveil : and justly might it be called the 
Apocalypse of Christian charity. When Jesus Christ 
had consummated the mystery, the seals of this book 
were broken, its language understood, and its most 
impassioned figures naturally presented themselves 
to the pen of Catholic writers, as often as they 
endeavoured to express the ineffable nuptials which 
are accomplished in the communion. Protestant 
authors make comparatively little use of this sacred 
epithalamium, which appears to them a collection of 
hieroglyphics of which the key is lost. 

The difference between Catholicism and Protestant 
piety is marked in their prayers. Prayer is the 
accent of religion : it exhibits its heart, as the 
human voice reflects the shades of thought and 
feeling. The supplications of the ancient world were 



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the cry of a great misery to a great mercy. But with 
the prayer which we have learned from the lips of 
the Saviour a new order commenced. The Christian 
exposes his necessities to God : but it is not with 
these he begins : he first of all supplicates God on 
account of God himself. He desires that his name 
of Almighty Father, the principal and only cause 
of all that is, may be every where known and 
adored ; that his reign, the reign of his Word, the 
eternal King of the spiritual world, may come ; 
that heaven and earth, subject to his holy will, 
may be the sanctuary of his Spirit of love. 
It is only then, the Christian begins to suppli- 
cate for himself. In three words, he embraces all 
the wants of the present, past, and future — this, 
three-fold existence — the passing eternity of the 
creature. The present wants but a little bread, the 
bread of our indigence, according to the Syriac 
version, the material emblem of that food which is 
the super substantial aliment * which alone appeases 
the hunger of the soul. The past has nothing to 

* Panem nostrum supersubstantialem da nobis hodic. — 
Vulg. St. Matt. cap. vi., v. 2. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



151 



ask for, save pardon, and to obtain it, the Christian 
wast pardon. In the future^ has nothing to fear 
but himself. His prayer concludes like the universal 
petition of all ages and nations; for deliverance 
from evil in the design of infinite goodness, 
is the end of our creation. Though admirable 
in eveiy word, the Lord's prayer is particularly 
distinguished from the forms of supplication inspired 
by the primitive religion, in this particular that 
the disciple of Christ, more occupied in his 
prayer with God than with himself, does not cry 
out with afflicted humanity, peace to men, until 
he has chaunted with the angels, Glory to God ! 
Compare the Catholic and Protestant prayers 
with this divine model, and, that the terms of 
comparison may be just, commence by retrenching 
from the last the prayers literally borrowed 
from the Catholic liturgy or formed on them ; 
there is no sincere Protestant who will not be 
impressed by the difference. However gross the 
prejudices that intervene, genuine devotion, whose 
ear is ever delicate, cannot fail to distinguish the 
true from the false accents of supplication. Whence 



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is it that so many Protestants envy the unction of 
Catholic prayers which sheds so much sweetness 
even on the sentiment of our wants, and lends to 
repentance almost the charm of innocence ? Faith in 
the Eucharist, which, at every moment, powerfully 
excites confidence, love and the spirit of sacrifice 
constantly upholds prayer in the degree of perfection 
to which it has been raised by Christianity, whilst 
wherever this faith is altered or rejected, prayer 
necessarily retrogades towards its primitive imper- 
fection, a thing no longer tolerable, for, under the 
empire of religion fully developed, it is a grating 
discord, which disturbs the harmony of the whole. 
A striking comparison will serve to illustrate these 
observations. The Lutheran belief in the Eucharist 
is that which differs least from the Catholic, which 
latter has been entirely rejected by the Calvinists. 
The English system, though Calvinistic at 
bottom, oscilates between Wittenburg and Geneva, 
inasmuch as according to Burnet, it considers as 
indifferent the dogma of the corporal presence, so 
strenuously maintained, for the moment of commu- 
nion, by the primitive Lutherans, but rejected with 



THE EUCHARIST. 



153 



such horror, as an impious tenet, by the fanaticism of 
the ancient Calvinists. Now it has been remarked that 
Lutheranism, notwithstanding the ferocious temper 
of its founder, presented from its very origin a milder 
character, in point of piety, when contrasted with the 
repulsive harshness of Calvinism though established 
by a man less violent. The character of the English 
system is intermediate : the Calvinists think it too 
devout ; the Lutherans, not sufficiently so. Hence 
the three principal fractions of Protestantism are 
distinguished by a corresponding relation to piety, 
as they recede from or approximate to the generative 
dogma of Catholic piety. I am far from sup- 
posing that the peculiar character of each of 
these sects has been determined by this cause alone ; 
but hi order to account for the phenomenon, 
it should not be forgotten that the moral, as 
well as the physical world, has its affinities 
and combinations. This law, which may be 
demonstrated by the history of many ancient sects,* 
shewed itself in Jansenism, the last of modern 
heresies. One of the first effects of its anti-social 
* Vide Appendix. 



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doctrine was to estrange from communion. The 
stern controvertist, who contended to the last for 
the rarity of grace, was naturally impelled by his 
sombre logic to publish the manifesto of his sect 
against frequent communion. Impervious to the 
mysteries of love, jansenistical devotion is cold and 
heartless. It stands self-convicted of wanting the 
grace of prayer. 

The Eucharist is, in Catholicism, the centre of 
those pious communities known under the name of 
Congregations. They have existed, at all times, 
and places under ever-variable forms, for they are 
precisely destined to correspond to the moral wants 
of times and places. The outcry against these 
institutions considered in themselves argues at least 
a profound ignorance of human nature. As, besides 
the tenets common to all, there are various modes of 
conceiving them, every individual — country, and 
period, having its peculiar intelligence ; in the same 
manner and for the same reason, besides that fund 
of piety which is common to all Christians, there 
are modes equally diversified of feeling religion. 
When a certain number of individuals agree in 



THE EUCHARIST. 



155 



their ideas and feelings, these analogous disposi- 
tions necessarily tend to associate, and for that 
purpose seek an exterior and appropriate form. 
This tendency produces in the intellectual order, 
schools of Christian philosophy ; and, in the senti- 
mental, congregations of piety. Their suppression 
would reduce piety to a geometrical equality, to a 
state of inactivity opposed to the laws of nature, 
which so far from impeding, stimulate the free 
and varied developement of individual power 
and energy. But those particular societies, by the 
very fact of having each its mode of life, would 
soon form as many different modes of worship, were 
they not based on those of general worship. This 
is what the Church does, in giving them the altar of 
sacrifice for a centre, and frequent communion as 
their first law. The eucharistic devotiou, which is 
of general obligation, is to the particular forms of 
devotion which every individual may adopt what the 
symbol is to their different systems : it is both the 
foundation and the rule. Catholicism maintains, in 
point of piety as of government, something fixed 
and common, for such is, in every possible order of 



156 GEREET ON 

things, the necessary support of all indiuidual 
activity and existence ; variety in the midst of unity. 
Such is Catholicism — such is nature. 

Frequent communion continually leads back the 
soul to itself. This sort of action, sensible at every 
period of the Church, is more perceptible in the 
middle ages. The interior of monasteries exhibited 
a vision of the angelic life amid the ferocity of 
a barbarous age. The religious orders which 
cultivated the soil of Europe still accomplished 
more, they reclaimed the moral waste of the 
soul. The Cenobites were obliged by their rule 
often to approach the sacred table. The Divine 
Word which alone resounded in the depths of their 
solitude, and which was prolonged in the silence of 
their meditations, dail^ reminded them of the perfect- 
ion which a familiarity with the Holy of Holies 
demanded from them. This thought continually 
excited them to acquire the knowledge of their own 
hearts. They cultivated those with exceeding care, 
that they might carry to the most august as well as 
to the sweetest of all mysteries, the purest and the 
most delicate flower of human aifection. The ascetic 



THE EUCHARIST, 



157 



works of that period are marked by an exquisite 
refinement of feeling. From the cloister it gradually 
made its way into the world, and, directing itself to 
other objects, inspired chivalry with that mysticism 
of love and honor, which has exercised such power- 
ful influence on the manners and literature of the 
christian world. The asceticism of the middle age 
has handed down an inimitable work, to which 
Catholics, Protestants and philosophers, have agreed 
to pay the best tribute of admiration, viz. that of the 
heart. How wonderful that a small book of mysticism 
the production of such an age, should have imparted 
a deeper tone of reflection to the meditative genius 
of Leibnitz, and kindled almost to enthusiasm the 
cold temperament of Fontenelle ! No person has ever 
read a page of the Imitation, particularly in the 
hour of affliction, who did not say in concluding : 
this reading has done me good. Next to the Bible 
this work is the sovereign friend of the soul. But 
where did the poor solitary who wrote it find that 
inexhaustible love ? for never would he have written 
with so much power and sweetness had he not loved 
much. He solves the question for us himself. Every 



158 



GERBET ON 



line in his book on the sacrament is a commentary 
on the preceding ones. 

All the relations which we have now considered 
present but imperfectly the influence of this principle 
of love : to understand it fully, we should feel it. 
Why should the infidel refuse to believe so many 
Christians as to their internal sentiments. Does not 
their conduct harmonise with their testimony ? Why 
then should he disdain to hear them? Is there 
nothing beautiful but what strikes the senses ? Are 
the wonders of the heart to be despised as valueless, 
and, if marks of the Divinity exist any where, where 
shall they be sought for, if not in the inspiration of 
virtue ? As for my part I bow with deeper reverence 
to the accents that sanctify the soul, than to the 
voice of genius. Let us then listen to them in 
respectful silence. The Eucharist, they tell us, is 
an integral part of the two worlds, a temple placed 
on the boundaries of earth and heaven. There is 
effected a union between the types of the one and 
the realities of the other, and the communion is 
accomplished as if beneath the half-opened vestibule 
of the invisible sanctuary where the eternal union is 



THE EUCHARIST. 



159 



consummated. "Whilst the -senses are detained in 
the visible order, the soul feels the presence of the 
invisible : it enters into it ; it partakes of its sub- 
stance, like a man placed at the limits of this present 
material system, who. stretching forth his hand, 
grasps the boundaries of a higher world. There then 
passes within the soul what human language would 
fear to profane by expressing. To that confused 
murmur of the passions, which as yet agitates the 
faithful soul, like the last struggle of life, succeeds 
a profound peace. Shortly after, a commotion sweet 
as it is powerful, announces the presence of the Deity, 
and immediately holy desires, prayer, patience, and 
the spirit of sacrifice, often languid, are again revived. 
All that is divine within her kindles at the moment : 
the mental eye becomes purified and receives some 
rays of that light which is reflected from a brighter 
world. Emotions, which combine all that is touching 
in sentiment with all that is calm in reflection, attest 
the renewed harmony of the spirit and the senses. 
We may frequently feel on other occasions the joys 
of virtue ; here alone we are inebriated with all its 
delights. You would fondly wish to retain these 



160 



GERBET ON 



exquisite sensations, but your efforts are vain. They 
have been shed on the soul, but to imbue her with 
the sense of that word of happiness, the name of 
which belongs to a lost language, whose idiom 
spoken by the children of Adam contains but the 
wreck. But the more clearly the soul comprehends 
that word,the more deeply does she feel that it is not 
of this world. Until she shall have deposited at the 
portals of Heaven the burthen of terrestrial virtues, 
until the moment shall have arrived when she will 
be freed ever from hope, the joys of the captive soul 
will be marked by suffering. The pleasure of this 
world becomes insipid, its happiness a burthen, 
and, whoever is deeply versed in life must acknow- 
ledge, that the greatest miracle of communion is to 
render it tolerable. These raptures of love mingled 
with sorrow impart, at that solemn moment, a sub- 
lime expression to the countenance. That of joy is 
rarely so : because joy is so fugitive and false that it 
appears to give to the human figure a sensless and 
undignified expression. Sorrow, on the contrary, 
almost always ennobles the countenance. But the 
instinct of our primeval destiny, alarmed by the 



THE EUCHARIST. 



161 



contrast, seeks another dignity than that of sorrow. 
The true condition of man is the reparation of his 
misery, and his countenance never exhibits a nobler 
terrestrial aspect, than when he embodies the expres- 
sion of that mystery of sorrow and grace, on 
receiving the impress of a divine joy in the abyss of 
his sufferings. Mark that christian who adores his 
Saviour within his soul: would you not say that if 
that mouth, closed by recollection, were to open, a 
voice would come forth, attempting, though in a 
plaintive tone the canticles of Heaven? It would 
blend the sighs of man with the rapture of an angelic 
spirit 



162 



GEP.BET ON 



CHAPTER IX. 



The connexion of all the errors that destroy faith 
in Divine Love. 



The order of the physical shadows forth the unity 
of the spiritual world. Each particular phenomenon 
is interwoven with more general phenomena, those 
with others, and thus till we arrive at the universal 
phenomenon which is the harmony of all particular 
facts. What we denominate particular truths are, in 
like manner, only glances more or less limited of the 
eternal and infinite truth. He who contemplates the 
material universe as the expression of a single law, 
can easily understand how the sole violation of that 
law in any given instance would include in principle 



THE EUCHARIST. 



163 



the destruction of the entire, and draw after it the 
total ruin of the system. In the same way, truth 
being essentially one, all negations finally tend to 
resolve themselves into one great negation, and 
there is no error that does not assail the substantial 
truth or God himself. Thus viewed every culpable 
error is a deicide. The rejection of the catholic 
doctrine respecting the Eucharist furnishes an 
example the more remarkable as it strikingly presents 
the close union of those consoling dogmas that vivify 
the human soul by the revelation of boundless love. 

The first protestant controvertists who argued 
against this mystery of love unconsciously mooted a 
question of vast importance. Freed from scholastic 
subtilities on the essence of matter and spirit, now 
exploded from all great systems of philosophy, 
whether ideal or material, their difficulties arose 
from the impossibility of conceiving an union of the 
Infinite with man the finite being, according to the 
mode of communication which the Catholic dogma 
supposes. Let us attend to the consequence : the 
chain of error is about to unfold itself. 

It is evident to all that the Deists only applied 



164 



GEBBET ON 



the same logic to the fundamental mystery of Chris- 
tianity, in demanding how the increated, impassible, 
and infinite being could unite himself to our corrup- 
tible and mortal nature, in short, how the infinite 
being could unite himself to the finite, so as to form 
the Man-God. 

But the question does not stop here ; for it is 
equally clear that the Pantheists only generalize it, 
by asking in turn how the finite can co-exist 
with the Infinite being who embraces all. Hence 
the system of the absolute identity of all things : 
the finite are then but the simple modifications of 
the universal being. 

Thus the question of the Protestants on the 
Eucharist, of the Deists on the Incarnation, and 
of the Pantheists on Creation, may be resolved into 
the single question, viz., that of the relation of the 
Infinite and finite beings, whereof Pantheism pre- 
sents the general formula. It is for this reason it 
attracts all other systems, which sooner or later are 
absorbed by it, for it is the nature of the human 
mind not to stop at particular questions, but to 
ascend till it arrives to that which is the source of 



THE EUCHARIST, 165 

all others. History indeed attests the prevalence of 
Pantheism compared to other systems of error. It is 
at the same time the point of departure and the ulti- 
mate goal of that philosophy which has broken the 
bonds of fraternity with faith. It was seen watching 
over its cradle in the East, and again we behold it 
at the decline of Grecian philosophy, which, consu- 
med by doubt, buried itself in the school of Alexan- 
dria, beneath the ruins of Oriental pantheism. Our 
age presents a similar tendency : the philosophy of 
the eighteenth century, the offspring of Grecian 
philosophy, evidently recedes in Germany and 
France, before a more comprehensive philosophy, 
which is reviving Indian pantheism under modem 
forms. The mind of man, in estranging itself 
from God, cannot divest itself of that all-absorbing 
idea. Even in destroying it, he seeks after it 
and pursues its very shadow. After having refused 
to believe in a union of God with man, in his love, 
and even in his existence, when he sees himself 
separated from him, that unnatural solitude 
terrifies him — because the want of the Infinite 
being becomes a torment to him, and no sooner 



166 



GERBET ON 



has he said in his heart : there is no God, 
than his bewildered reason exclaims all is God. 

Some perhaps will be astonished to find that 
protestan t logic leads directly to this great error. 
And in truth the distance which separates the con- 
ceptions of Spinosa from the arguments of John 
Calvin and Theodore of Beze is very considerable. 
But if the necessary connexion of ideas be closely 
attended to, it will appear evident that the latter 
have only narrowed to the dimensions of their under- 
standing that vast principle of error the develope- 
ment of w T hich has been presented by the dutch 
Jew in colossal proportions. 

But we must proceed still further, for the protes- 
tant objection, generalized in pantheism, is, at bottom, 
but the identical objection of the sceptics against 
all certitude. The reason of man is fallible, because 
it is finite ; certitude is a participation in a reason 
essentially infallible, and consequently in the sove- 
reign and infinite reason. In demanding then how 
the reason of man can be certain, they simply ask 
how finite can participate in infinite reason: a 
question evidently insoluble ; and for the same reason 



THE EUCHARIST. 



167 



so are the corresponding questions of the Pantheist, 
the Deist, and the Protestant. They reject each 
one of the catholic truths on the same principle that 
the sceptic rejects all certitude. Scepticism is the 
refusal to believe, prior to demonstration the com- 
munion of the human soul in truth which is its 
necessary aliment. Is the perception of our reason 
on this point the primaiy motive of our belief? No, 
for every perception of reason supposes it. We 
believe it because nature impels us to it, and not 
because our intelligence explains it. But what is 
this blind instinct in the constitution of our nature ? 
It implies that the principle of our existence, what- 
ever it be, is not a bad principle that would consign 
us to be the miserable dupes of an universal illusion, 
but a principle essentially good, which creates within 
us the idea and the want of truth only for the purpose 
of satisfying the latter. Thus our belief in truth 
and goodness is simultaneous : the life of the soul 
commences in the same manner as it is developed, 
viz., by faith in love. 

This brings us to consider in another point of 
view the error of the Protestants, and its connexion 



168 



GERBET ON 



with the errors destructive of faith in divine love. 
If the arrrogant weakness of reason is offended with 
the mysteries of power, because by pointing out its 
limits they humble it ; there is also in the folds of 
the corrupted heart a secret aversion to the mysteries 
of love, because they render more visible by a 
striking contrast all the horror of its depravity. In 
the same way as reason when humbled arms itself 
with its own darkness to combat whatever it does not 
understand, thus the will of man seeks in its own 
corruption a frightful pretext to reject the prodigies 
of love which confound it. Why conceal it, we all 
cany within us this fatal disposition — the most 
terrific disorder of the human heart. This abyss has 
its degrees ; let us endeavour to sound their 
depths. 

If God has condescended to so great an excess of 
tenderness as to dwell in us and we in him by the 
Eucharistic communion, why does such love suffer 
men to continue a prey to so many frightful disorders'? 
Let the Protestants interrogate themselves, and say 
if this be not the secret of their heart. But lo ! 
another voice is heard : it rises from a more profound 



THE EUCHARIST. 



169 



part of the abyss, from that region where dwell the 
blasphemers of Christ. If God became man, why 
is man so depraved ? God, say they, visited the 
world and changed it not ! Descend still lower, 
hearken to that other voice which proclaims aloud 
the symbol of despair, in protesting that the universe 
is not governed by supreme benevolence, that the 
power of evil equals the power of good, and eternally 
disputes with it the empire of creation. Whence 
comes this desolating doctrine ? On what is it based ? 
On the very same principle. Under a God infinitely 
good, they exclaim, why should evil exist ? Here 
ends Faith in infinite love : next to this — is the hell 
of Atheism. 

Who would not tremble on contemplating the terrific 
fecundity of a single error ? Protestant heterodoxy 
conceals the germ of that rash doubt, which gave rise 
to the blasphemies of manicheism against Providence, 
as well as the generative principle of Pantheism, 
which destroys the idea of God, by prostituting it 
to other beings. Whence come these astonishing 
connexions between doctrines apparently so remote ? 
Let us penetrate still more deeply into this mystery 



170 



GERBET ON 



of error, and we shall find at the bottom of all these 
doubts, the one identical question which has not cea- 
sed to agitate the human race, since it heard these 
deceitful words : — you will be like unto Gods know- 
ing good and evil. 

Good, properly so called, is the Infinite Being. 
Evil, which is the privation of good, is, taken in its 
most general sense, a privation of being ; and in this 
sense every finite heing is evil, inasmuch as it is 
finite. Thus, whether we ask with the Manicheans, 
how disorder, or the privation of good can exist 
under the empire of perfect goodness, or whether 
we ask, with the Pantheists, how the finite or the 
absence of being can co-exist with the infinite, we 
only pursue, in two different points of view, that 
perfect knowledge of good and evil which is the 
incommunicable attribute of the Infinite intelligence. 
This unlimited curiosity is the original sin of the 
human mind ; and hence the root of all these errors 
to use an expression of Paschal, draws its folds and 
windings from the depths of this abyss. 

What a strange perversion of the human mind ! 
During six thousand years, it has sought on every 



THE EUCHARIST. 



171 



side the solution of this sombre problem, and each 
generation demands it in vain from those who have 
gone before it to the tomb. This in itself is a painful 
condition : but that reason should fatigue and exhaust 
itself in the attempt to infuse despair into the heart 
by wresting from it that belief which is its joy, its 
life ; this, alas, is the extreme of miser} 7 . Happy 
they who, relying, not on the changeable conceptions 
of their isolated reason, but on the immutable teaching 
of universal tradition which has transmitted to them 
the word of God, are devotedly attached to this 
vivifying word, and seek not, in the darkness of 
reason and corruption of the will, miserable argu- 
ments against the omnipotence of Divine charity. 
Fixed in the imperishable belief of the human race, 
they enjoy a profound repose. This repose of reason 
is not torpor or apathy. Though not exposed to rest- 
less agitation, these children of faith are by no means 
in bondage. Their faith ever aspires to intelli- 
gence. They know that the condition of man is 
to pass from simple belief to the unclouded vision, 
and, though this change camiot be perfectly 
accomplished but in the future order, they continually 



172 



GERBET ON 



aim at it in the present, and realize on that know- 
ledge a faint reflection of the heavenly vision. Borne 
on the wing of faith, their reason pervades the 
universe to investigate the mysteries of life and death. 
It asks each creature the word of order which it 
received, each phenomenon represents to it a divine 
thought, and creation spreads before it as the transpa- 
rent veil of the ever living truth. If shades mingle 
with these terrestrial lights, it knows how to wait with 
patience. It knows that the limits which arrest its 
progress will one day disappear. Such is the intelli- 
gence of the believe?', in its developement, patient, 
because immortal, its look, always fixed on the 
horizon of eternity. The rays which it collects here 
below, the pale reflection of that glorious day for 
which they sigh, serve but to create within them a 
more ardent desire of mi clouded brightness. But 
though they do not now perceive as they will then 
perceive, they love already as they will hereafter. 
This is the reason why they understand better the 
mysteries of goodness than those of power. "When 
the solutions they receive do not fully satisfy them ; 
their reason, purified by love,, comprehends at least 



THE EUCHARIST. 



173 



the sense of that supreme solution. It is thus God 
loved the world* 

* Sic enim Deus Dilexit mundum. — Evanglic St. Joannes 
c. iii., v. 16. 



THE EUCHAP.IST. 



175 



NOTES. 



NOTE 1. 



Though the primitive order of divine communica- 
tions was impeded by this original crime. 



All close observers of human nature have recog- 
nised that a tendency to evil prevails in man. To 
their remarks on this point may be added the 
sentiments of one of the most zealous amongst the 
partisans of material physiology. "The child is as 
yet ignorant of the enjoyment derivable from reflec- 
tion, except those that he procures by artifice, 
which he is always prepared to substitute for force, 
whenever he comes into collision with another 
stronger than himself. This species of pleasure 
seems to possess more attractions for him than that 
of beneficence unless he discover in the latter means 



176 



GERBET ON 



to indulge his predominent faculties : thus he pro- 
tects a child less strong than himself whom immedi- 
ately after he will make the sport of his tyranny. 
In general, lie prefers evil to gocd, because it minis- 
ters better to his vanity, and affords him greater 
commotion ; an enjoyment which must be procured 
at any risk. It is for this reason he prides himself 
in breaking inanimate objects ; for he finds therein 
the two-fold pleasure founded on the necessity of 
self-satisfaction, viz. that of destroying resistance 
and exciting the rage of rational creatures, which in 
his mind is nothing less than a victory that becomes 
a source of gratification to him, when he has escaped 
punishment by flight. The delight which he feels 
on beholding the torture of animals can be accounted 
for only on the same principle ; that of his fellow 
creatures would be equally agreeable to him, were 
he not curbed by fear, for even then the principle 
of self-preservation begins to exercise its influence. 
Pity restrains him from time to time ; but its deve- 
lopement is scarcely perceptible in children of the 
male sex ; it exists more frequently and is felt more 
deeply in females of a tender age. I grant that all 



THE EUCHARIST. 



177 



the acts of children do not bear this impress of 
depravity. The benevolent disposition which cha- 
racterizes some in after life begins to shew itself 
anterior to reason ; but the majority is of the class 
already described. Strong children of the male sex 
who feel the necessity of exercising their strength 
in external movements, are more irresistibly born to 
the commission of evil. There are few who do not 
employ their force against the weaker class ; it is the 
first impulse of their nature, but when they are not 
born to be ferocious they are stopt by the tears of 
their victim, until by a fresh impulse they are excited 
to perpetrate a similar crime."* The child prefers 
evil to good. This indeed is a frightful enigma. 
Discover, if you can, an explanation preferable to 
that furnished by Christianity. It is true it accounts 
for this problem of all ages and nations by a primitive 
mystery; but this mystery, attested by general 
tradition, is itself the first fact of history, and has it 
not been rightly asserted that all our science consists 
in deriving our ignorance from its remotest source. 

* Vide Treatise on irritation, by Dr. Broussais, p. 101, 
1828. 

M 



178 



GERBET t)N 



NOTE II. 

In the ancient mysteries of Mithra, which finally 
prevailed through a considerable portion of the 
Moman empire, St. Justin and Tertullian inform 
us that bread and a vessel full of water were 
placed before the initiated. 

Tertullian says that the devil " whose principal 
study and business it is to corrupt the truth, strives 
to imitate in his idolatrous mysteries the holy 
ceremonies of the christian religion. The devil 
baptizes some, namely, his own disciples and adhe- 
rents ; by washing, he promises the remission of sin, 
and if I yet remember, Mithra signs his soldiers on 
their foreheads : he celebrates the oblation of bread 
and introduces an image of the resurrection. 

Diabolo scilicet, cujus sunt partes, intervertendi veritatem, 
qui ipsas quoque res sacramentorum divinovurrf, idolorum mys- 
teriis emulatur. Tingit et ipse quosdain, ulique credentes et 



THE EUCHARIST. 179 



NOTE III. 

It would be difficult to imagine any thing more 
solemn than the prayers and benedictions 
which preceded and followed this rite. 

This part of the liturgy of Zoroastre, besides the 
information it affords us respecting the forms of 
ancient worship, is also in many other respects, a 
monument of the primitive faith which has been 

developed by Christianity. We shall cite a few 
extracts. 

THE INVOCATION. 

O you, benign master, who reserve for men the 
reward which they merit, remunerate publicly, the 

fideles suos : expositionem delictorum de lavacro repromittit, et 
si adhue memini, Mithra signat illic in frontibus milites suos : 
celebrat et panis oblationem, et imaginem resurrectionis indu- 
cit (Tertull. de Prescript hsereticor. XL.) 



180 



GERBET ON 



supplicant who invokes you ,may I be pure in this world 
and happy in the next, and may the soul of Sapetinan 
Zoroastre, the pure Genius, those of all the servants 
of Ormusd, of all the military, of all the labourers, 
of all the artisans of the world, who have come for 
this Miezd, and to whom it has been acceptable, 
may they at my departure from life come to meet me at 
twelve hundred gams,* from Beheseth, the highest 
heaven, from the bright Gorotman, the seat of 
happiness. May they receive this miezd, and be 
always present to me, (when I pray) may my good 
works increase ! May the accursed source of sin and 
evil be banished for ever ! May the world be pure, 
the heavens excellent ! and finally may purity and 
holiness prevail ! May the souls be received in 
Gorotman." — Zend Avesta, torn. ii. ; jechts Sades, 
Afrin des sept. Amschaspands, page 80. 

And as the reversibility of merit was universally 
believed : The communion of saints * * * * 
O may power, grandeur, and victory be given by 
the aid and intercession of the celestial genii, to this 



* A measure of nine feet 



THE EUCHARIST. 



181 



soul, may these favours be accorded to the spirit that 
I commemorate ! May he obtain what I desire for 
him, who has presented pure oblations for the 
Miezd ; who has given liberally for the Zour* in 
honor of the pure ! May this person participate in 
the good works which I will perform in this world, 
in those that the just may perform ! If he perform 
good works, and honour the celestial genii, may his 
prayers in this world, as a reward, reach the just 
Judge. — Ormusd, and the Amas chaspands, f (Afrin 
du Gahanbar, page 81.) 



THE CONVOCATION. 

I invoke here the Szeds J of heaven and of earth, 
the celestial Rauzgar, the pure genii, from Kaio- 
moots § down to Sosiosch, || the principle of good, 
replete with happiness and splendor. Those who are, 

* Consecrated water, 
f The celestial spirits of the first order. J Angel*. 
§ The first man. |j The expected Redeemer. 



182 



GERBET ON 



who have been, and who shall be ; those who are 
born, or are not born in this province, or in another 
province ; the men of this world, the women, the 
young men and maids, all those who have died 
Behdinans. * To commemorate all the pure genii, 
is a good work ; I commemorate them, and I am 
convinced that by so doing, I shall perform a meri- 
torious act. I invoke here all the souls, all the spirits 
of Behdinans. — (Afrin du Gahanbar, page 81.) 

THE FINAL PRAYER AND BENEDICTION. 

May you be always victorious by the Miezd offered 
to God ; pure, you who have come here with 
clean oblations, with old wine ! May the throne, 
the seat of light, be finally given to you ; may all 
your wishes be accomplished I May you be always 
far from Pectiare, i.e. the author of evil. ! May 
Mansrespand, the keeper of heaven, watch over you, 
and may all the pure of the seven Keschvars f assist 

* Followers of the perfect law. 
f The seven parts of the world. 



THE EUCHARIST, 



183 



you ; you Behdinans, who have come here with this 
Miezd. Until you shall have arrived at Gorotman, 
may you be pure, may you live long, and may my 
prayers in your regard be heard ! (Afrin de 
Zoroastre, page 94.) 



NOTE 4. — THE GERMANS, &c. 

This note may be seen fully explained in the 
Catholic, published June 1823.— page 369. 



NOTE 5, 



Though one of its circumstances is contrary to the 
prohibitions of the Koran. The eighteenth of March 
was the day called hayt corban, that is the feast of 
sacrifice, by which they understand the sacrifice of 
Abraham. The Arabians call it hayt-hesa, and the 
Turks be hue ba yram or great festival. It is also 
known by the name haytmura, or brilliant festival, 



184 



GERBET ON 



This festival is the principal and most solemn of the 
Mahometan religion. — (Travels in Persia, by Chardin, 
torn, ix., p. 6, Paris, 1811.) Though the blood has 
not been let, the victim is eaten ; notwithstanding that 
it is opposed to the Mahometan law. — ii. ibid, p. 14. 

NOTE 6. 

A communion in grace, at the same time spiritual 
and corporal, Sfc. 

The Catholic theory of the sacraments is but the 
developement and perfection of the primitive belief. 
In the same way as truth is communicated to man, 
by the medium of sensible signs or speech, so it was 
believed that grace was imparted to him by material 
symbols. In his treatise on mysteries, a strange 
collection of traditional truths and wild speculations, 
Jamblicus speaks rather remarkably of the funda- 
mental idea of these mysteries, veiled in primitive 
faith and worship. It is true, it may be conjectured, 
that he added to the ancient theology which he 
was reviewing principles borrowed from Christian 



THE EUCHARIST. 



185 



theology ; but, even in this hypothesis, it is evident 
that he would not have done so, did he not deem the 
latter a dev elopement of the former. " The due 
observance of the divine precepts and works, which 
surpass our intelligence, and the wonderful efficacy 
of the symbols and holy rites, known only to the 
Gods, procure for us the deific union. When we 
officiate^ it is not by the power of our intelligence 
that the sacraments are effected, for in that case their 
action would proceed from us and be purely intellec- 
tual ; but, though we are ignorant as to the manner, 
in which they produce their effect the power of 
the gods, without being excited by our intelligence, 
recognizes of itself its own ineffable images. 

Universal causes are not moved by particular 
effects ; it is for this reason that our intelligence 
does not principally determine the divine action. 
Nevertheless, intelligence, holy sentiments and 
purity, are required as a sort of accompanying cause. 
But it is the holy sacraments that principally excite 
the divine will ; thus the Deity is excited by itself, 
and does not receive its principle of action from any 
inferior or secondary cause. 



186 



GERBET ON 



Imagine not that the principle of their efficacy is 
to be found in us, or that they depend on the 
knowledge of the truth which is in our intelligence, 
neither do they become deceitful signs in conse- 
quence of the errors of our mind. — Iamblicus, on 
the Egyptian, Chaldean and Assyrian mysteries, 
page 220, Basilean, 1532. 



NOTE VII. 

Hence arises the necessity of a primitive revelation, 
which indeed would be the most philosophical 
conception^ even though it had not been the 
universal belief. 

The materialism of the eighteenth century, in 
rejecting primitive revelation, proclaimed that man 
was born in a state of barbarism, in the last degree 
of abasement. The absurdity of this hypothesis is 
all but admitted by the spiritual philosophy of the 
present age, which irresistibly impelled to adopt 
sounder notions, no longer dares to uphold those of 
the last century. The change which has been effec- 



THE EUCHARIST. 



187 



ted on this point claims peculiar notice, as it will 
lead the philosophers further, perhaps than they 
would wish. We shall give two instances, selected 
from opposite schools. 

" It has been asked by a writer of the sentimental 
school if the savage state was the primitive condition 
of man." 

" Some philosophers of the eighteenth century 
responded with much levity in the affirmative." 

" All their religious and political systems set 
out from the hypothesis of a race primitively reduced 
to the brute condition, roaming in the forests and 
contending with one another for the acorn and the 
flesh of animals; but had such been the natural 
condition of man, by what means could he have 
emancipated himself from it?" 

" Are not the reasonings by which he is supposed 
to have been induced to adopt the social system a 
begging of the question ? Is it not evident that this 
is a vicious circle? Who does not perceive that 
every species of reasoning supposes the previous 
existence of a social state ? Its advantage can be duly 
appreciated only by enjoyment. In this hypothesis 



188 



GERBET ON 



society would be the result of the developement of 
intelligence, whilst on the contrary the developement 
of intelligence is itself the result of Society." 

" To invoke chance, is to substitute a word devoid 
of sense for a cause. Chance does not triumph over 
nature. Chance has not civilised beings of an 
inferior class, which, in the hypothesis of our phi- 
losophers, ought have also experienced some lucky 
accident." " To regard civilization as the gifts of 
strangers, is to leave the problem unsolved. You 
may point to masters instructing their disciples, but 
you cannot inform me who instructed the masters 
themselves, it is a chain suspended in the air. 
Besides it is notorious that savages repel civilization 
when presented to them." The nearer man is to a 
state of barbarism, the more stationary is he, the 
hordes that have been discovered at the bomidaries 
of the earth have not made a single advance towards 
civilized life. The inhabitants of the coasts visited 
by Nearchus are at the present day what they were, 
two thousand years ago. These wanderers still 
continue to snatch a precarious subsistence from the 
sea. Their wealth consists in aquatic bones cast on 



THE EUCHARIST. 



189 



the shoie. Want has not instructed, nor has misery 
enlightened them. Modern travellers have found 
them in the same state that they had been discovered 
by the Admiral of Alexander." ''It is the same 
with the savages of antiquity described by Agathar- 
cides and with those of our days of whom Bruce 
speaks. Surrounded by civilzed nations, near the 
kingdom of Meroe, so celebrated for its priesthood, 
the equal in power as well as in science of the 
Egyptian priesthood, these hordes have continued 
down to this day in a state of barbarism. Some of 
them take shelter under trees, others lay snares for 
the Rhinoceros and Elephant, and subsist on their 
flesh. Others in fine collect the swarms of locusts 
which are driven by the winds into their deserts, 
or the remains of crocodiles and sea-horses, whilst the 
maladies described by Diodorus as arising from these 
impure aliments press as heavily to day on the 
descendants of those unhappy people as at any former 
period. Ages have past away and no change has been 
effected in their condition, no progress is discoverable 
among them, no invention has characterised their 
labour.*' 



190 GERBE32 ON 

" Nor do we imagine that the savage state was 
that in which man found himself at his origin. It is 
not our intention to go back to the beginning of time 
and state how religion commenced, but merely by 
what means when it is in its rudest form, it can 
uphold itself and gradually arrive to perfection." 
" We are far from asserting that this rude form was 
the primitive one ; we are not opposed to its being 
looked on as a deterioration." (Religion viewed 
in its origin, its form and its developements, 
by M. Benjamin Constant, tome 1, p. 153 — 157.) 
If man was not born in a savage state, how could 
he have been born civilised? The author now 
cited very prudently, pauses at this question. 
He is far from asserting this, he is not opposed 
to that, he does not wish to say how, for in truth 
he is afraid. 

Let us now attend to an advocate of rationalism. 

" It was particularly during the first age of the 
world that this faculty of simple view, this fortuitous 
intelligence, so necessary to man in his primitive 
state of destitution, must have shewn itself with all 
its force. There must have been for him an instan- 



THE EUCHARIST. 



191 



taneous enlightenment, and if we may so speak, a 
fiat lux of thought, to impart to him a sort of 
intuitive science, which might supply experience by 
instinct, and reason by sentiment. Otherwise society, 
without those notions, on which its very existence is 
based, would totter and finally disappear ! The child 
of a day, without tradition or acquired wisdom, how 
fearful would have been its state, had it been forced 
to frame for itself a system of philosophy suited to 
the urgency of the moment ? To have positive 
principles of action, was the first law of its existence ; 
it was worthy the divine wisdom, when forming it, 
to communicate them to it by prompt and special 
grace. It is for this reason that the Deity assumed 
the character of revealer after that of creator. Not 
that he took a body or became incarnate, every 
expression of this nature is, in our mind, a mere 
figure. He has neither voice nor language, his will 
is manifested only by symbols. It is as the Father 
of light, as author of all that is and all that appears, 
that he communicates himself to man. It is thus 
that revelation was made, at least it is in this sense 
we comprehend it.'- (Essay on the history of phi- 



192 



GERBET ON 



losophy in France for the xixth century, by M. Th. 
Damison, p. 387, 388.^ 

Reduced to plain and accurate terms, this poetry 
is the union of two contradictory ideas. The author 
admits that with the first man intelligence was born 
in some extraordinary manner, without admitting a 
corresponding cause. Were this phenomenon the 
result of the native faculties of man, the history of 
the human race should present similar ones. Now, 
what does it teach us ? In the first place, it teaches 
us that, in the majority of men, intelligence proceeds 
from the aid of language which they are taught ; in 
the second place, that the savage state, in which 
marks of a similar intellectual power should be 
perceptible, in proportion as it approximates to what 
is termed the primitive state, far from affording 
any, presents a series of opposite facts ; and finally 
that the individuals who are shut out from all social 
instruction are by no means enlightened by thepower 
of nature or the phenomena of the universe, and 
that they remain in a state of utter abasement, 
instead of this fortuitous intelligence, this intuitive 
science, this fiat lux of thought, with which the 



THE EUCHARIST. 



193 



imaginative genius of our author compliments the 
first men. Irreconcilable with the laws of the 
human mind manifested by universal experience, 
this hypothesis involves an absurd miracle, wrought 
without the intervention of a miraculous cause. To 
say that we are enlightened at times by ideas of 
whose origin we are ignorant, that, in certain 
circumstances which exalt the mind, some men are 
favoured with what is called sudden illuminations, 
and deduce therefrom the existence of an intuitive 
science anterior to every sort of instruction, this 
indeed is a strange abuse of language. All facts of 
this nature, viewed in themselves, suppose a combi- 
nation of pre-existing notions, and are found only 
in minds already developed, furnished with ideas as 
well as expressions, and enjoying the means by which 
the social man exercises the faculty of thought, whilst, 
for the primitive man, intelligence itself was to be 
created. A question is not answered by examples 
sought in an order of things essentially opposite. 

<£ To conclude — -the materialism of the last century 
admitted that man was born in a state of barbarism." 

"The spiritual philosophy of our age admits more 

N 



194 



GEE.BET ON 



or less distinctly that he was born intelligent and 
civilized." 

. " Did the materialism of the last century 
establish the hypothesis of primitive stupidity on 
facts ? No : it maintained it as the necessary conse- 
quence flowing from its rejection of the primitive 
revelation proclaimed by Christianity. 

Has the spiritual philosophy which succeeded it 
endeavoured to refute the arguments from which it 
inferred that man, deprived of all communion with 
a superior being, must necessarily have commenced 
by ignorance and brutalism? No — but, viewing 
this hypothesis on its own merits, it deemed it oppo- 
sed to the laws of the existence both of man and society. 

For these reasons all the researches of philosophers 
on this question may be reduced to the following 
sylogism. Every sort of external information being 
rejected, brutalism must have been the native state of 
mankind, but, this supposition is inadmissible, there- 
fore, &.c. The last century, and particularly one of 
its most eminent writers, Hume, established the first 
proposition on proofs. * The new spiritual school 
* Which to some superficial minds appeared plausible. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



195 



contends for the second. Christianity fondly che- 
rishes the consequence. 

Philosophy can only emancipate itself from this 
circle of contradictions by solving the question already 
proposed by Fichte : namely " Who instructed the 
first men? for we have demonstrated that man 
stands in need of instruction. No man could have 
instructed them, whereas the difficulty is about the 
first men. They must then have been instructed by 
some intelligent being who was not man, until they 
were sufficiently enlightened to instruct one another. 
(Vide the rights of nature.) 

NOTE VIII. 

Thus the belief in a man- God of which very many 
striking traces are found in antiquity, was com- 
prehended, though imperfectly, in the general 
desire of an efficacious expiation. 

According to y-king, one of the sacred books 
of the Chinese, the holy One alone can offer a 



3 96 



GERBET ON 



sacrifice pleasing to Chang- Ty i.e. the Lord 
of heaven. But what were the characteristics of 
the Holy One according to tradition ? " It would not 
be difficult to prove from history that the ancients 
had ideas respecting the Messias, which were directly 
derived from revelation, and clearly prove that the 
most remote antiquity was more favoured by God 
than many would appear to belive, affecting ignorance 
as to the writings of Vossius, Beurrier, Thomassin, 
Huet, Mourgues, and other learned men who, after 
the example of the holy Fathers, collected the 
remains of antiquity. It is a well known fact that 
Confucius declared that the Holy One by excellence 
was in the East ; but is it known what the learned 
amongst the Chinese understood by the Holy One ? 
The name of holy, says Ouang-ky, is given to him who 
Jcnows all, sees all, hears all. All his words are so 
many maxims ; his example a rule of conduct. He 
unites within himself three orders of beings, possesses 
allgood; heis all celestial and admirable. The book, 
Tecliao-sin Tou Hoci says The Holy one is so 
high and so profound that he is incomprehensible. 
He is the only one whose wisdom "knows no limits, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



197 



before him futurity stands unveiled. His charity 
embraces the universe, and like the spring-time 
vivifies it; all his words are efficacious. He is 
one with Tien ( Heaven.) According to Lein-Hen 
the heart of Tien is in the bosom of the Holy One, 
and his maxims on his lips. The world cannot 
Jcno?v Tien without the Holy one. The nations 
expect him, says Mong-Tse, as a declining plant 
expects the dew and rain. It may be asserted that all 
this can be understood of a wise man, such as Confu- 
cius, or of a great emperor, as Yao-Chan. But the 
following words which are found in the large com- 
mentary of Chou-King, can in no wise be understood 
but of a being superior to man. The Tien is the 
invisible holy one ; the Holy one is the Tien who 
became visible to teach men. How is the language 
of Y-King on the Holy one to be understood ? This 
man is the Tien and the Tien is this man. In what 
sense are we to regard the epithets, divine man, 
celestial man, the most beautiful of men, the man 
by excellence, the wonderful man, the first-born 
amongst men? How are we to interpret what has 
been said in various forms, and by so many authors, 



♦ 



198 



GERBET ON 



viz., that he will renew the earth, that he will reform 
the public manners, expiate the crimes of the world, 
die in sorrow and opprobrium, and finally that he 
will throw open the heavens &c. Memoir of the 
Chinese. Tom, ix, p. 384. 

NOTE IX. 

Hie propensity to illuminism, which has been found 
at every period among this class of Protestants, 
augments and strengthens in proportion as 
rationalism destroys the little faith which the 
reformation has preserved. 

In a work recently published on the state of the 
Protestant religion in Germany, Mr. Hugh James 
Rose, a minister of the English church, has forcibly 
pointed out this result of rationalism : — " The 
doctrines of the innovators must have shocked and 
afflicted all who as yet were sincerely attached to 
Christianity. 

But as the churches of Germany wanted both a 



THE EUCHARIST. 199 

common centre and a fixed doctrine, the friends of 
religion no where found a rallying point. Each one 
was obliged to adopt the plan of defence which 
appeared to him best calculated to uphold the good 
cause ; and though many theologians, and especially 
Storr, displayed great zeal in the defence of the 
orthodox doctrine, it appears that the majority of 
those who are ranked among the antagonists of 
rationalism, fearing that they could not maintain the 
ancient system in its various parts, wisely judged that 
more evil than good would result from a continuation 
of the controversy. Owing to these apprehensions, 
many layed down the weapons of reason, took refuge 
in their own thoughts, and closing their eyes on the 
exterior world where every thing scandalized and 
afflicted them, they betook themselves to contem- 
plation, in order to attain to a union with God, 
the immediate vision of the truths of faith, which 
has always been the end of mysticism. For 
when we presume too much on human reason, 
we generally end by despairing in it. This tendency 
to mysticism was kept up among the common people 
by various religious tracts, some of which were the 



200 



GERBET 035 



result of native talent, others imported into Germany . 

The Protestant principle, generalized by philo- 
sophy and applied to the basis of human science, has 
been productive of similar results. If on the one 
hand, it begets by its peculiar action scepticism, on 
the other, it leads to mysticism the minds- in which 
this rational destruction of faith is combined with 
the want of some sort of faith. 

A similar tendency, continues Mr. Rose, resulted 
from the philosophy of the day for the higher orders. 
Three systems of philosophy have successively 
reigned in Germany, and even still they contend there 
for the empire of the mind. The two first, those of 
Kant and Fichte, are preparing the way for mysti- 
cism, at least inasmuch as they reject all objective 
proofs of religion, and substitute for them others 
more subjective. I do not mean to insinuate that 
it was the intention of these two philosophers to 
lead the mind to mysticism; but the principles 
established by them lead indirectly to it. In refusing 
to believe that human reason can establish the exis- 
tence of God and the intellectual world, and admitting 
as the basis of these truths but a practical faith 



THE EUCHARIST, 



■2\ 



rendered necessary by our moral constitution, Kant 
would have us seek truth only in the investigation of 
this practical principle which is said to be inherent 
to our nature. 

Xow who does not perceive that such an abstrac- 
tion of the exterior world in the research of truth, 
presents a striking resemblance with the operations 
of mysticism which are equally internal. Besides, if 
reason has not the right to place an intelligent author 
over this beautiful spectacle of the heavens and the 
earth, imagination and sentiment will do it against 
reason, and that such an important truth should 
depend solely on their authority, would appear to me 
a further advance to mysticism. However if Kant 
states that we know nothing of God, at least he makes 
a distinction between God and the world. Fechte 
does not stop even here, for he says what we deno- 
minate Providence and moral order, has not an ex- 
istence distinct from our moral nature. In what- 
ever light we view the charge of atheism, prefered 
agahist the author of this doctrine, it is evident 
that such a system tends to mysticism, whereas he 
admits so intimate and essential a union of the soul 



202 



GERBET Olf 



with God that it would be impossible to conceive the 
existence of God independent of our moral nature. 
But if mysticism is only a consequence more or less 
direct of the two first systems, it may be regarded 
as the basis of the third, viz. that of Schelling. 

Though agreeing with Kant as to the impotence 
of reason, he rejects the consequence drawn by him, 
viz., that we have no knowledge of the intellectual 
world, and he maintains that we can arrive at that 
knowledge, not through the medium of reasoning, 
but by the shorter path of intuition. In his system 
God is the only existing being ; he is both the unity 
and totality of all that exists : whatever is said to exist 
independently of him has no real existence ; even 
we do not exist ourselves really. What is termed our 
individual, personal existence is but a mere phantom, 
for our reality results from our identity with God. 
This system, to which we have alluded only to point 
out its close relation to mysticism, representing God 
as the absolute being independently of whom nothing 
exists, and by the very fact teaching the identity of 
many things that appear to have a separate existence, 
cannot derive its proofs either from reason or the 



THE EUCHARIST. 



203 



senses, which, so far from favouring such a doctrine, 
proclaim the very contrary. It became necessary then 
to evoke a power which could raise us above the 
sphere of experience, a faculty calculated to trans- 
form into truth and reality what reason and the 
senses declared to be impossible and false. What is 
this power, this faculty ? it is the intuition of the 
absolute, in other words, an imagination, soaring 
above the regions of poetical genius which in its 
inventions should never go beyond, what reason and 
the senses can admit, at least, as possible. In con- 
sequence of these principles, great importance was 
attached to whatever could nourish or excite the 
imagination, as well as to the impressions that might 
be produced from acting on the senses. There are 
some among the disciples of Schelling who bitterly 
lament the coldness of protestant worship, exhort 
the preachers to address themselves solely to the 
senses and imagination. Not a few authors of that 
school regret even the pomp of Paganism. 

The Catholic religion has been also complimented ; 
many have openly given up Protestantism, whilst 
others desire to introduce a portion of the Catholic 



204 



GERBET ON 



ceremonies into the reformed worship. Some of the 
disciples of Schelling profess what may be termed 
an allegorical Catholicism. They make use of a 
catholic nomenclature in the exposition of their 
master's system, as well as in speaking of the 
sacrifice and priesthood of the christian religion, 
but the sense they attach to these orthodox expres- 
sions bear no affinity whatsoever to their ordinary and 
natural signification. It is not however to be sup- 
posed that all the changes which have taken place 
with regard to religion in Germany, are to be ascribed 
to this philosophical mysticism. Many proselytes, 
in entering the pale of a church which, in 
the midst of her horrible corruptions, * has preserved 

* The trite phrase the horrible corruptions of the 
Catholic Church does not, in the most remote degree, affect 
the general controversy such as it is at the present day. You 
admit that if the independance of individual reason were 
once established as a principle, the total ruin of Christianity 
would be the result. Then you must also admit that Christianity 
cannot uphold itself, but in virtue of the Catholic principle of 
authority, or you must invent some principle of belief which 
will be neither the Catholic or Protestant principle, and you 
will be good enough to mark the absurdity. If the thirty-nine 
articles of the English church are to be believed in virtue of 
private judgment, you revert to the system which you have 



THE EUCHARIST. 



205 



at least the form and principal doctrines of a true 
Church, seek there that peace which they had in 
vain sought amidst the interminable changes of the 
Protestant church of Germany, and by the successive 
rejection of all the truths of Christianity, (vide The 
Catholic Memorial, January 1829.) 

NOTE X. 

TJius the institutions of ecclesiastical celibacy, 
though its developement required time, and 
though it suffered many modifications, is univer- 
sal in its principle. 

The historical errors relative to the law of cele- 
bacy, which have been advanced by writers who 
were pre-disposed to speak too lightly of matters on 
which very probable they did not maturely reflect, 

declared incompatible with, the existence of Christianity. If 
on the contrary, the English church contends that they are to 
be adopted on her authority, she sports -with human reason : 
whereas she owes her existence to the private judgment of the 
Reformers opposed to the authority of the Catholic church. 



206 GERBET ON 

would fill a volume. We regret that the most 
recent example of this kind should have been fur- 
nished by Mr. Villemain in his course of lectures 
during the past year. u I shall with your leave make 
no reference to Gibbon, who tells us that the Bishops 
instituted priests, and thus indemnified themselves, 
by this spiritual generation for the celibacy that had 
been imposed upon them. Alas! how much more 
interesting would it not have been and no less phi- 
losophical to attend to what had occurred at the 
Council of Nice, to refer to the Bishops discussing 
the law of celibacy, and, in the midst of those rigo- 
rists, to point to that venerable old man, the martyr 
Paphnutios, one of the confessors of the Egyptian 
church, raising his voice, and warning them : (not 
to divest the human heart of all its affections.") 
Fifth lesson, May 1828, p. 33— Unfortunately for 
the interesting nature of this anecdote, it is anything 
but certain. The writers prior to Socrates, and 
particularly Bufinus, who in his ecclesiastical history 
is very copious in his details of that Council makes 
no mention of it. Socrates, lev. 1, c. xi, and after 
him Sozomene who has given the abridgement of his 



THE EUCHARIST. 



207 



works, are the only authors whose testimony can be 
appealed to. But there are very sufficient reasons 
for not crediting those authors. For, in the first 
place, among the Egyptian Bishops who assisted at 
the Council of Nice that of Paphnutios is not found, 
and yet according to Socrates he was Bishop of a city 
of the Thebaic!. In the second place, they pretend 
that the Council, adopting the advice of Paphnutios, 
determined nothing on the article of celibacy; an 
assertion which is directly opposed to the third canon 
of that very Council. Their narrations is equally 
opposed to the testimony of more ancient authors 
such as St. Jerome,* St. Epiphanius, f who 
inform us that, according to the general discipline, 
married men, who had been received among the 
clergy, were obliged to observe continence from 
the very moment they began to exercise the sacred 
functions : that this law flourished wherever the 
canons of the church were attended to ; and that, 
though in some places, relaxation had introduced 

* Libr. contr, Virgil, circa iait — Apolog. pro libr. contra 
Jovinian, ad finem. 

f Libr. contr. haeres ad finem. — Heeres 59. 



208 



GERBET ON 



a contrary practice, the existence of the law could 
not be questioned. Besides, in the discourse which 
Socrates and Sozomene lend to Paphnutos, and 
which relates only to that particular class of ecclesi- 
astics of which we have just spoken, there is not a 
syllable of the sentimental phrase against religious 
celibacy in general, which the fancy of M. Villemain 
has supplied. 

NOTE XI. 

The real presence, the basis of the public worship by 
which Catholicism acts on men in the aggregate 
is not less intimately connected with the practice 
of confession, the organ through which it acts 
in a mode corresponding to the various necessities 
of individuals. 

As man is in a certain sense a two-fold being, 
the passions rarely succeed in their attempt to stifle 
the sentiment of justice. Protestantism, as every 
individual, has its two-fold self. The one which 



THE EUCHARIST. 



209 



declaims against confession may be recognized by its 
tone of bitterness and hatred. The other does 
reverence to this salutary institution, and the homage 
that it pays it, calm as reason, is betimes accompa- 
nied with an accent of sorrow and regret which 
imparts wonderful force to this cry of conscience. 
Luther could never summon up courage enough to 
annihilate the tribunal of penance ; even in one of 
his last works, he thus expressed himself: — Before 
God we must acknowledge ourselves culpable of all 
our crimes, not excepting those which we cannot call 
to mind : but we are obliged to confess only those 
which we know and feel in our hearts. — (Small 
Catechism.) 

The eleventh article of the confession of Augsburg 
teaches that " in the church we must obtain, and not 
suffer to fall into disuse the •particular absolution, 
though it be not necessary to enumerate all our 
crimes and faults, seeing that such a thing is 
impossible." 

The following passage is found in the Swedish 

liturgy, which was in use at the end of the sixteenth 

century, " When the rules prescribed for auricular 
o 



210 



GERBET ON 



confession, fasting days, the impediments arising 
from consanguinity and affinity, and other similar 
traditions were abolished, so frightful was the 
libertinism which followed, that every individual, 
whatever might be asserted to the contrary, believed 
himself authorized to satisfy his passions instead of 
submitting to salutary counsel. If you exhort them 
to confess their sins, in order to test the sincerity of 
their conversion y to which alone absolution should be 
accorded, they reply that no person should be 
constrained. Do you counsel them to observe the 
fast, they indulge in all that gluttony can desire. 
Do you invite them to be present on certain days at 
the divine office, they answer that Christians are free 
to do every day what they please. If you endeavour 
to dissuade them from incest, they maintain that 
tradition is not more obligatory in the new than in 
the old Testament. According to the proverb, the 
horses run away with the rider, and the reins no 
longer govern the car. As it was the duty of our 
ancestors to combat superstition, so we ought to de- 
clare war against irreligion — that most fearful of all 
monsters. This war should be conducted with the 



THE EUCHARIST. 



211 



more care and precaution, as it is to be apprehended 
that the exterior of religion may finally disappear, and 
that the sacred ministry already despised by the 
Anabaptists and by those who reject the sacraments, 
may be so by the generality of the people, whilst 
each follows his own fancy whether for the adminis- 
tration or rejection of sacred things." 

It is a well known fact that the Lutherans of 
Nuremberg supplicated Charles V. to re-establish 
among them by an edict the practice of confession. 
A similar request was made by the ministers of 
Strasburg, in a memorial presented by them to the 
Magistrates in 1670. 

But notwithstanding the efforts which Lutheranism 
has made to retain the forms of confession, it has 
not been able to succeed in preserving the spirit 
which makes them effective. An institution so 
powerful can never be upheld unless it be based 
upon a principle of authority. With Catholics alone 
it is a power ; with every other religion or sect it 
cannot be, and in reality is but a form. 

I do not mean to assert that private absolution is not 
very useful remarks Calvin, on the contrary, as I have 



212 GERBET ON 

already done in many passages of my works, I 
recommend it, provided it be free from and devoid 
of superstition." (Defens ii. ad Wesphtal, torn VIII. 
Free confession is a Utopian scheme. 

The English Church imitates as closely as pos- 
sible the Catholic institution. 

Then shall the minister examine whether he repent 
him [the sick person) truly of his sins, and be in 
charity with all the world. * * * * Here 
shall the sick person be moved to make a special 
confession of his sins, if he feel his conscience 
troubled with any weighty matter. After which, 
the Priest shall absolve him (if he humbly and hear- 
tily desire it) after this sort : — 

Our Lord Jesus Christ who hath left power to 
his Church to absolve all sinners who truly repent 
and believe in him, of his great mercy forgive thee 
thine offences : and by his authority committed to 
me, I absolve thee from all thy sins, in the name 
of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy 
Ghost, — Amen. — {Vide the order for the Visitation 
of the sick — Book of Common Prayer, page 274. 
Printed by Eyre and Strahan, London, 1820. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



213 



Leibnitz has remarked with his usual sagacity the 
advantages of confession. — " It must be acknow- 
ledged, says he, that this institution is worthy the 
divine wisdom ; and assuredly there is nothing more 
beautiful, nothing that has more claims on the 
gratitude of man than the Christian religion. The 
Chinese and Japanese were struck with admiration 
at it. In truth, the obligation of confessing one's 
sins causes many to refrain from the commission 
of crime, particularly those who are not hardened 
therein ; it is a source of consolation to those who 
have fallen. It is for these reasons that I look on a 
pious, grave and prudent confessor, as an instrument 
in the hand of God for the salvation of souls ; for 
his counsels serve to regulate our affections, to 
enlighten us with respect to our faults, make us 
avoid the occasions of sin, restore what has been 
unlawfully procured, repair scandals, remove doubts, 
console the dejected, and finally to heal or at least 
mitigate all the maladies of the soul. If there is 
nothing to be prized more than a faithful friend, how 
inestimable the happiness to find one who is bound 
by all the reverence due to a divine Sacrament to 



214 



GEPiBET ON 



preserve inviolably the trust reposed in him, and to 
aid those who stand in need of his ministry !" — 
(System of Theology, page 271, Paris, 1819.) 

In our days a Protestant Lady, the authoress of a 
German work, entitled Mary or female piety, ex- 
pressed the desire which is secretly formed by many 
who are wearied from Protestantism, when she saith 
" What would I not give to be able to approach the 
tribunal of penance." 

The observations of a distinguished writer of the 
present day may be introduced here with great 
propriety, as they bear a close relation to the 
point in question. 

It is true, we observed that the tone of intercourse in 
all societies which are not Catholic, wants meekness : 
but what we have to remark here is, that it wants 
mercy. The acute and frank Cardan makes a strange 
confession, " among my vices" said he, " I acknow- 
ledge one great and singular, that I never say 
anything more willingly than what will displease 
the hearers ; and in this I persevere knowingly and 



THE EUCHARIST. 



215 



willingly, though I am not ignorant how many 
enemies this alone gains for me, such is the force of 
nature joined to long custom."* Great he might 
well term it, but excepting among a people of faith, 
far from singular vice; for it is so essentially a 
disposition of our fallen nature, that nothing but the 
supernatural influence of Catholicism can effect a 
complete cure. When that has not been applied, 
every one, — the school boy, — the collegian, — the 
man of drawing-rooms, — the lounger in public 
places, — the young and old,— the noble and ple- 
beian, — all are Cardens in that respect, and might 
truly make the same confession, if they had his 
honesty. Are you about to visit a country where 
Luther, or Calvin, or Cranmer, or Jewell, are 
the names in most repute? where there is no 
such thing heard of by youth or age as confession ? 
that is, in short, where the mysteries and light of 
faith have been removed with the discipline of Rome ? 
Then learn to stand constantly on your guard against 
malice, and the shrewdness of ill natured criticism, 
and the spirit which triumphs in humiliating others, 
* Hieron, Cardan, de vita propria, cap, 13. 



216 



GERBET ON 



and in spoiling, by one cunningly devised blow, 
their day or hour of festivity. Lay aside the feeling 
of innocent freedom with which you had been 
accustomed to conduct yourself in those Catholic 
lands, where men were taught, from boyhood, in the 
words of St. Anthony, "that there was no greater 
impiety than causing grief of any kind to others " * 
where every one, young and old, rich and poor, 
looked and spoke as if he joyed in kindness, and 
were so averse to whatever could interrupt it, that 
as we read of Andrew Doria, he would desist from 
supporting his own cause, though convinced of its 
justice, rather than seem to seek praise by an obstinate 
disputation, f You are now with men of a different 
type, who have revived the old civilization. The 
spirited and burning retort is here thought, not 
merely by the openly profane, but by the grave and 
formal, too, as characterestic of a noble nature, and 
every one is ready to reply in the style of Plautus, to 
the unintentional offender." Tu contumeliam alteri 

* Serm S. Antcmii, 
f Sigonii de Keb. Gest. and Dorias, lib. ii. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



217 



facias, tibi nOn dicatur ? Tarn ego homo sum quam 
tu." {Vide More's Catholici or Ages of Faith- 
Book VII.) 

The author now cited drams the following picture 
of a nation living under the influence of the 
Catholic Religion. It will be the more accept- 
able to the Reader, as it will serve to illustrate 
that portion of the sixth chapter, where the Abbe 
Gerbet introducesLordFitzwilliam,a Protestant, 
describing the action of Catholicism on Society. 

Hence it was that men were so slow to discover 
scandals or to exaggerate offences. They did not 
look with scowling eyes at things which cause only 
mirth in heaven, they contemplated nature not as 
Manichacans, they loved God not with the dark 
narrow views of those in later times, who followed 
the sophist of Geneva, but as Catholics ; that is, 
they loved the just Creator and merciful Redeemer, 
and therefore they loved all his creatures. They 
loved men as men, and men as Christians. Imitators 
of God ; other Christs, they loved even those who 



218 



GERBET ON 



seemed forgetful of their Lord ; for he, from the 
depths of love's abyss, loves even those who love 
him not, loves them even contaminated and deformed 
not, indeed, to make them continue in that state but 
to render them beautiful." 

" Why, man," asks Marsilius Ficinus, " do 
you vituperate the world ? The world is most beau- 
tiful, framed by the best and most perfect reason, 
though to you, indeed it may be unclean and evil, 
because you are unclean— and evil in a good world."* 
They considered, notwithstanding, all the abuses that 
existed, how much generosity, how much justice, 
how much fear, how much love, dominates in the 
life of men ; they marked the exquisite beauty and 
charm of universal order, from the sports of joyous 
youth upon the meadow on a summer's day, to the 
tranquil meditation of the aged between cloistered 
walls, faintly illumined by the dull lancet pane. 
Charity looked with the eyes of a painter at the dif- 
ferent pursuits and characters of men, and appre- 
hending thus drew a profit from all things that it 
saw. The expression of angel mildness in the little 
Epist. ad Paul, Presbvt. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



219 



sister, who hastens with her picture of the Madonna, 
to place it in her brother's boat before his departure, 
did not please it more than the fierce disdain of art 
observed in the rough figure of that brother, son of 
one of those christian fishermen, as old Albertus 
calls them, whose youthful countenance, all deter- 
mined as it was, seemed ever on the point of relaxing 
into smiles. Charity saw a blessed martyr's spirit 
evinced in simple and low things ; it saw the mind 
after God's own heart in those who, though trained 
up thus meanly, were innocent and holy, far beyond 
the trick of others ; it saw constancy, courtesy, 
friendship, gentleness, all wildly but most sweetly 
growing in the illiterate children of the laborious 
poor, whom heretics teach men to regard with the 
disdain of pedants, or with a still more insulting 
pity ; as if grace could not be theirs, merely, per- 
haps, because they put themselves in posture that 
divine nature hath suited to the words and affections 
of the generous.* 

I said that charity was an art, in regard to the 
pleasure attending its exercise : and the remark is 
* Idiotao contemp, xix. 



220 



GERBET ON 



just also in many other respects ; for it rendered 
men, in regard to conversation, like skilful painters, 
by imparting to them that delicate tact which feels 
the necessity of omission as well as of creation ; 
which is evinced in softening down all, and covering 
over some things, casting a shade over objects of 
sharp brilliancy, and throwing a general, subdued, 
and gentle tone over the whole surface. 

" Charity was not on the lips' edge alone, but in 
the heart of men who continued faithful to the 
Church, and therefore no one feared malicious scru- 
tiny within the dwelling of his neighbour. None 
there distrusted kindness, though not promised with 
an oath : for the will to bless could only fail through 
want of power, such mercy was in human breasts, 
you find this remarked incidentally by many of the 
ancient local historians. What a delightful picture 
does Ambrose Leo present of the state of society in 
his native city in the fifteenth century ? "In such 
harmony and friendship are the people of Nola educa- 
ted," saith he, "that such things as civil feuds and 
party contentions are wholly unknown to them. 
The only combats they behold are the mimic battles 



THE EUCHARIST. 



221 



of the youth, which take place annually before the 
beginning of lent, the noble and plebeian promiscu- 
ously joining, and which are terminated e're the 
setting sun, when all are friends again, relating 
their exploits to one another, or enduring their defeat 
with good humour. You will hardly find, elsewhere, 
so many pairs of friends as at Nola ; nor is it only 
between the inhabitants that friendships abound: 
they are equally prompt to embrace foreigners ; and 
to this they are inclined, not through any motive of 
gain, but simply from the joy which they derive from 
the idea alone and from the friendship." * 

Such representations of society abound in the old 
writings. One ancient author, alluding to the kind- 
ness and charity of the people of Amalphi, says that 
throughout the whole territory one might imagine 
oneself inhabiting Paradise. It was the spirit of the 
blessed merciful, widely diffused and presiding over- 
all movements of the social body, which produced 
that concord in the state, uniting together the vast 
multitude of institutions and combinations resulting 

* Ambros Leo de Nola, lib i, c. 13, iii, 13, in Thesaur 
Antiq. gtal. ix. 



222 



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from Catholicism into one system of harmonious 
variety which seemed so admirable to the attentive 
observers of former times, that one who deserved to 
be ranked among them, John Babtist De Grossis, 
when writing the history of his native city, entitled 
it Catanense Decachordum,* as if a narrative of 
its manners and institutions, its calamities and its 
triumphs, would sound like the music of a lyre ; 
as if each digression on a particular monastery, or 
church, or hospital, or confraternity of mercy, might 
be compared to a chord of that instrument, by the 
extension or contraction of which the modulation of 
sound would become sweeter. He strike these 
chords, and we hear of the faith and piety of his 
countrymen, of their ancient Nasilicas, in which 
are shrined the relics of St. Agatha. We hear of 
their solemn processions on the anniversaries of their 
martyrs, of the antiquity and beauty of their monas- 
teries, of the sanctity and learning of the holy men 
within them, of the charity of abbots, of the love 
shown to the mendicant and all religious orders of 
seculars, whether priests or laics, and of their servi- 
*Thesaur Antiq. Itali and Sicilise roni. x. 



THE EUCHARIST. 



223 



ces to the poor, of the devout women, the nuns and 
sisters of blessed charity, of the hermits in the 
groves adjoining, who had given all their possessions 
to the poor for the love of God, of the deplomas 
and gifts of munificent founders, of the confraternity 
of laics to serve Christ in the persons of the poor, 
of the hospitals and asylums for the miserable, of 
the colleges and schools of the purest esteem enter- 
tained for ancient families, whose highest nobility 
is derived from having so long deserved the love 
and admiration of their country, of the gifts of nature, 
of the works of art, to which the words of holy Jerome 
are so applicable, that things revolve in the same 
circle, that men should bear one another's burdens, 
and that the sweat of the dead should be the delight 
of the living, of the deep religious feeling with which 
they loved and defended their country, too well expres - 
sed in those few lines upon the shrine of the virgin 
martyr, the patron of their city — "ubi orta etpassa- 
regressasum, quianimis dilexi earn, et qui mecum have 
non amat patriam, quese mea est, me odit," — and by 
those inscribed over the city gates — * Noli offendere 
patrian Agathse" — the words, it is said, which 



224 



GERBET OX 



thrice presented themselves to the eyes of the 
Emperor Frederick II, in a book of prayer which 
fell into his hands while resolved upon levelling 
Catsena to the ground for its fidelity to the Roman 
Pontiff, and which filled him with such fear that he 
relinquished his cruel intentions, and withdrew. 
The chanter proceeds, and we hear of the palace of 
the senators, where the robed magistrates, the mitred 
fathers, the steel-clad heroes, and the illustrious citi- 
zens are represented in ancient paintings ; we hear 
of their loyal fidelity to their princes, of the innocent 
names of their youth, of the sanctity of their great 
men, of the solicitude of their pastors, from St. 
Everius to Mortinus de Leon then living, whose 
charity forms the last tone. 

Reader, do you not perceive how easy it was for 
this minstrel to fulfil what he promised, and how 
confidently he might predict that his book would 
resemble the music of a lyre, at one time perhaps 
causing tears, at another joy, but never awaking 
jealousy or envy, or other foul passions, or exciting 
any affections excepting those of a heart that seeks 
satiety in love? So it is with all such historic 



THE EUCHARIST. 



225 



representations of a Catholic state during ages of 
faith : they resembled harps, which you may strike 
boldly without fearing to conjure up a bad spirit, 
touch what chord you will. They form, in fact, a 
most sweet and earthly symphony, which, whether 
plaintive or joyous, is always sure to leave the souls 
of the listeners more tuned to reverence and pity, 
more loving and devoted — deeper imbued, in short, 
with the charity of heaven. More'sCatholici, Book 7. 

Perhaps there is nothing more noble, says Voltaire, 
than the sacrifice made by a delicate sex of 
beauty ', youth, and frequently of high rank, to 
relieve that aggregate of human misery collected 
in our hospitals, the very sight of which is so 
humiliating to our pride and so revolting to our 
delicacy — Essay on morals, c. 139. 

In citing voltaire as an evidence to the exalted 
but practical benevolence of the Sisters of Charity, 
our Author adduces a testimony of the most unques- 
tionable character to the merits of those heroic ladies: 
p 



226 



GERBET ON 



emanating as it does, from one who is avowedly 
hostile to the spirit and institutions of Christianity. 
That ic is within the pale of the Roman Catholic 
Church alone, among all the societies which claim 
the name of christian, such devotedness is to be 
found, is a fact for which we have the same impartial 
evidence, quoted again by our Author, viz. " The 
nations separated from the Roman communion, have 
but imperfectly imitated that generous charity by 
which the latter is characterised." 

But why refuse to hear the accredited ministers 
of religion. Do not their statements, regarding the 
facts and institutions of the Church with which they 
are associated, and of which they possess such an 
accurate knowledge, claim at least as much respect 
as those of the Historian marking the political events, 
and social condition of his country. 

Let us attend then to Cardinal Maury explaining 
the constitutions of that order whose boundless 
charity could touch in his calmer and better moments 
the heart of the philosopher of Fernai. He speaks 
in presence of one of the most august assemblies in 
the world ; and at the command of one whose virtue 



THE EUCHARIST. 



227 



exalted royalty itself, and who proved so nobly on 
the scaffold that the Religion which in the day of his 
prosperity made him the friend of the Philanthro- 
pist, as well as the father of the destitute, inspired 
him also with the meek but heroic fortitude of the 
martyr in the darkest scene of that historic tragedy 
of which he was the victim. 

Examine well the injunctions which the Cardinal 
states to have been given by Vincent of Paul to his 
religious, and after the lapse of so many years, mark 
the zeal and fidelity with which they are fulfilled to 
the letter at the present day by the almost innume- 
rable congregations of that heroic institute spread 
not only throughout Europe but America. And 
after such an examination and such a survey, turn 
then to the systems of beneficence dictated by 
Philanthropy, or by the societies separated from the 
Catholic communion, and contrasting both with the 
charity of the Redeemer as displayed in the great 
sacrifice of Calvary, meditate in silence on the 
inference which your heart cannot fail to suggest. 

" During his pastoral life at Chatillon, he formed a 
charitable association of select persons to whom he 



228 



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committed the poor and the distribution of alms. 
Such were the blessings with which heaven was 
pleased to crown his virtuous efforts, that each of his 
good works grew into a public establishment for 
Religion, and according to scriptural language-^-this 
little fountain grew into a very great river, and 
abounded into many waters. Est. c. xi, v. x. 

The confraternity for the sick, founded by 
Vincent of Paul at Chatillon became the cradle of 
that invaluable establishment of the sisters of charity, 
whose services, be it spoken to the honor of Religion, 
our age reverences, and of whom even England in 
our own times has demanded colonies from France. 
No other duty but an unremitting exertion for the 
relief of suffering humanity is imposed upon them 
by their worthy Founder. You sh'all, it is thus he 
addresses them in the constitution of his order, you 
shall have no other monasteries than the dwellings 
of the poor, no other cloisters than the streets 
of towns and wards of hospitals, no other enclosure 
than obedience, no other veil than a holy modesty. 
My intention, he adds, is that you assist each infirm 
patient with the care of a tender mother for an only 



THE EUCHARIST. 



229 



son." The tender providence of his charity extended 
itself even to formally ordering them, " to cheer and 
exhilarate the sick if they are too much dejected by 
their sufferings." 

That he might shield these humble servants of the 
poor against regrets which would render them useless 
by disgusting them with their state, this wise legis- 
lator, desirous of preserving in so heroic an institute 
an unabated ardour and zeal, does not admit them to 
profession until they have passed five entire years of 
probation, he then only permits them to engage 
themselves by vow for one year, anxious that each 
year should thus pass in the fervour of a continual 
noviceship, and that they should renew before God 
and man the merit of their first consecration. 
Encouraged by their success, Vincent of Paul 
generalizes the functions of these visible angels of 
Providence, and demands from them virtues in 
proportion to the public necessities, whilst he testi- 
fied the esteem he cherished for them by placing them 
over all his works of charity. These daughters, 
worthy of so good a Father, animated by his spirit 
become the mother of the orphan, devote themselves 



230 



GERBET ON 



to the education of children, assist the sick, the 
widow, the aged and infirm, visit the prisoner, the 
galley slave, the bashful and retiring poor, and that 
of the various sufferings of humanity, not one should 
remain without its remedy ; they are to be found on 
the field of battle ministering consolation to the 
dying soldier. It is thus they incessantly struggle 
against all the disasters which arise from indigence, 
age or infirmity ; from the vices or crimes of their 
fellow mortals, counting the most exalted virtues of 
humanity among the ordinary actions of their state, 
and fulfilling with a holy joy those works of charity 
the most disgusting to nature, but the most hono- 
rable in the eyes of Religion, in the city as well as in 
the county, in the galleys as well as in the prisons, in 
the most obscure retreats of misery as well as in the 
public asylums of charity. 

It was in the midst of the universal decay of 
religious orders that heaven, which visibly protects 
the daughters of Vincent Paul to interpose every 
where their touching innocence between his justice 
and human miseries, never ceased to multipy their 
establishments and their success throughout Europe, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



231 



It is the devoted family of Providence which diffuses 
itself through all parts to justify on the lips of the 
unhappy this sublime prayer, the depth of which 
man can feel and appreciate only in the hour of 
affliction, when he appeals to God through this 
tutelary adoption for peace and consolation — Our 
Father, who art in Heaven. 

Yes, doubtless, children of affliction, you have a 
Father in heaven, since he is represented even on 
the earth by so many humane and heroic mothers. 

Bless then for ever that benevolent spirit who in 
bequeathing to you their charitable succour again 
restored you to your divine affiliation. It is by the 
maternal solicitude of the virtuous daughters of 
Vincent of Paul whom he so justly styled the daugh- 
ters of Charity herself, that you recognize the 
paternity of your God in receiving every day from 
their hands a portion of his inheritence. (Panegyric 
of St. Vincent of Paul — preached by Cardinal Maury 
by order and in presence of Louis XVI, in the Royal 
Chapel of Versailles— March 4, 1785. 



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After the gratifying account given by the Cardinal 
of the origin of this institute, as well as of its 
extensive and beneficent operation, the reader 
may not object to the portrait of Sister of 
Charity, as she exists in our own days and in 
our own country, by one of considerable celebrity 
in the literary world, and who lately devoted to 
religion, talents and acquirements of the first 
order. 

THE SISTER OF CHARITY. 

She once was a lady of honor and wealth, 

Bright glow'd in her features the roses of health ; 
Her vesture was blended of silk and of gold, 

And her motion shook perfume from every fold ; 
Joy revelled around her — love shone at her side, 

And gay was her smile as the glance of a bride ; 
And light was her step in the mirth sounding hall, 

When she heard of the daughters of Vincent de Paul. 

She felt in her spirit the summons of grace, 

That call'd her to live for the suffering race ; 
And, heedlesss of pleasure, of comfort, of home, 

Rose quickly, like Mary, and answered, "I come." 
She put from her person the trappings of pride, 

And pass'd from her home with the joy of a bride, 
Nor wept at the treshold as onward she moved — 

For her heart was on fire in the cause it approved, 



THE EUCHARIST. 



Lost ever to fashion — to vanity lost, 

That beauty that once was the libertine's toast — 
No more in the ball-room that figure we meet, 

But gliding at dusk to the wretch's retreat. 
Forgot in the halls is that high sounding name, 

For the Sister of Charity blushes at fame : 
Forgot are the claims of her riches and birth, 

For she barters for heaven the glory of earth. 

Those feet that to music could gracefully move, 

Now bear her alone on the mission of love ; 
Those hands, that once dangled the perfume and gem, 

Are tending the helpless, or lifted for them ; 
That voice that once echoed the song of the vain, 

Now whispers relief to the bosom of pain ; 
And the hair that was shining with diamond and pearl, 

Is wet with the tears of the penitent girl. 

Her down-bed a pallat — her trinket a bead — 

Her lustre one taper, that serves her to read — 
Her sculpture, the crucifix nailed by her bed, 

Her paintings, one print of the thorn-crown'd head ; 
Her cushion, the pavement that wearies her knees, 

Her music, the psalm, or the sigh of disease ; 
The delicate lady lives mortified there, 

And the feast is forsaken for fasting and prayer. 

Yet not to the service of heart and of mind, 

Are the cares of that heaven-minded virgin confined 
Like him whom she loves to the mansions of grief, 

She hastes with the tidings of joy and relief. 
She strengthens the weary — she comforts the weak, 

And soft is her voice in the ear of the sick ; 
Where want and affliction on mortals attend, 

The Sister of Charity there is a friend. 



234 



GERBET ON 



Unshrinking where pestilence scatters his breath, 

Like an angel she moves 'mid the vapors of death ; 
Where rings the long musket and flashes the sword, 

Unfearing she walks, for she follows her Lord. 
How sweetly she bends- o'er each plague-tainted face, 

With looks that are lighted with holiest grace ; 
How kindly she dresses each suffering limb, 

For she sees in the wounded the image of Him. 

Behold her, ye wordly ! — behold her, ye vain, 

Who shrink from the pathway of virtue and pain ; 
Who yield up to pleasure your nights and your days, 

Forgetful of service, forgetful of praise. 
Ye lazy philosophers, self seeking men — 

Ye fireside philanthropists, great at the pen, 
How stands in the balance your eloquence weigh'd 

With the life and the deeds of that high-born maid ? 



THE EUCHARIST. 



235 



APPENDIX II. 

Hence the three principal fractions of Protestant- 
ism are distinguished by a corresponding relation 
to piety, as they recede from or approximate to 
the generative dogma of Catholic piety. This 
law, which may be demonstrated by the history 
of many ancient sects, shewed itself in Jansen- 
ism, the last of modern heresies. 

" Of the want of real piety among the sects separ- 
ated from the Church of Christ. The following 
apposite illustrations by the author of the Ages of 
Faith cannot fail to strike every candid mind." 

Notwithstanding vague and abstract professions, 
they have proceeded virtually to place the highest 
good in material prosperity, in the sciences, in the 
mechanical arts, which minister to temporal comfort 
and convenience. They never view the course of 
time and the affairs of empires from the height of 



236 



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heavenly meditation, which despises the world to 
follow Christ ; a crucifix so far from being an epi- 
tome of their creed, is its refutation. Their maxims 
are drawn from the wisdom, or even the conventional 
caprice of the world ; the virtues which they praise 
are all such as the gentiles praised. The practical 
results of Christ's sermon on the beatitudes are 
either never spoken of, or else dismissed with con- 
tempt, as so many popish observances, or even per- 
haps as vestiges of Paganism, old oriental errors, 
utterly at variance with all enlightened views. 
Hence they are more conversant with Cicero than 
St. Augustin, with Horace than with the sacred poets 
of the Church. The author of the Imitation, if tried 
by their principles, has probably shown himself igno- 
rant of every thing that a philosopher ought to 
know. By an involuntary impulse resulting from 
habit, they are every moment calling in question the 
very elements of the christian faith — every moment 
supposing that their own mind, as well as that of the 
person with whom they converse, is a tabula rosa ; 
as Evrard says of the Waldenses : " affirming no- 
thing, but proposing every thing as a matter of 



THE EUCHARIST. 



237 



doubt, saying, thus we think, thus we imagine : it 
seems so to us, perhaps it is so :*" or else they are 
dogmatizing, and laying down maxims contrary to 
faith, with an air of knowing more than they choose 
to express, as if being withheld from speaking more 
strongly only by courteous forbearance ; as the Ca- 
thari are described by Pope Innocent III. " Sub 
quadam humilitatis specie sui elationem animi palli- 
antes.f 

* Evrard, cont. Wsld. c. 13, f Epist. ix. 135. 



ERRATA. 



Page 52, line 19, for "cleaves the maternal bosom," read 

" cleaves to the maternal bosom." 

— 83, last line, for " vide note xi," read " vide note x." 

94, second last line, for "vide note xii," read "vide 

note xi."